September 12, 2011

Stop calling it social media if you want to get buy-in

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Today I gave a talk to a group of Corporate Communication execs interested in 'social-media.'  

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! 

 


Comments

Commentor

I think this is a fantastic suggestion Tim, though I'd go one step further: It's actually connections media.

Connecting offline and online
Connecting your customers to your business' values
Connecting your people to your customers
Connecting conversations to conversions

Commentor

Looking forward to more posts from you. Keep 'em coming! It's not often you run across something that's worth reading.

Commentor

Your blog article is very interesting and fantastic,at the same time the blog theme is unique and perfect.

Commentor

Super cute! My little man would look so stylin' in those!

Commentor

I think this is a fantastic suggestion Tim, though I'd go one step further: It's actually connections media.

Connecting offline and online
Connecting your customers to your business' values
Connecting your people to your customers
Connecting conversations to conversions

And you're connecting using the tools, size of message, and preferred way your customers want to connect, instead of the ways your company necessarily wants to connect.

Commentor

Interesting idea, Tim! It's true that sometimes you need to change your wording to really appeal to an in different market. Use words that excite or interest them, and the whole thing becomes much more appealing.

Commentor

Great post, Tim. Great ideas. Thank you.

Commentor

We're facing quite the same thing trying to evolve our company's collaborative methods both for local and geographically distributed teams. While the older and less tech-savvy give sour looks and negativity towards anything with 'social' or '2.0' in the name, the younger and more tech savvy do quite the same with the overly 'corporate' sounding names and lose enthusiasm. Finding that middle ground is essential to an effective roll-out, if only to keep interest and energy from those who haven't yet tried it.

Curious what others are doing to introduce "interactive media" into their corporate culture.


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