September 12, 2011
They are trying to harness it's listening and engagement power, and distribute it around their companies (from customer service to investor relations). To a person, they tell me the biggest task isn't figuring out how to use social tools, surprisingly.
Their biggest challenge is selling their senior leaders and CEOs on the concept. To the average (older or non-tech) exec, social media is a fad that's led by propellerheads and amateur mavens. In their view, it's a fad (like CB Radios) that they hope will soon pass. Sure, they've heard the United Breaks Guitars story, but it likely doesn't apply to them - and when you use words like Twitter, they scrunch up their face in disbelief.
For several of my consulting clients, though, we've found a breakthrough - the secret sauce to selling social into the enterprise. Stop using words that sound silly (Twitter) or irrelevent to business (social). Stop calling this social media!
Instead, call it 'Interactive Media'. It's the online conversation, to be paired with the offline one, for better business intelligence, marketing and service. That's a familiar and business centric way to talk about it, and likely no CEO will tell you that "interactive is a pssing fad."
At one company, the re-branding efforts has led a huge turnaround, and now the CEO has his own Hoot Suite account, to watch the "interactive conversation" as it unfolds. He isn't writing blank checks against the opportunity, but he no longer has the noise in his head.
Many internet startups like to use cute, irreverent and fun names: Yahoo!, Twitter, Google, etc. They are likely offputting, though, when it's time to sell stuff to the dinosaurs. When I was at Yahoo, in several situations, our ad agency partners stopped telling their Fortune 100 clients about the ad opportunity on Yahoo - instead, they just called it 'online marketing' - and it worked then too!