Most people view social technologies as a means of marketing. And, while they are indeed a very powerful way to market, there’s a lot more to the what's going on in the Social Era.
For marketers (and managers in general), social technologies create the possibility for two-way conversations with your customers and stakeholders that can’t be duplicated by any traditional, one-way medium. Companies can talk about what’s important to them in a way that is (hopefully) meaningful for their customers. And they can listen what’s important to their customers. This is especially valuable when there is a problem. A quick reaction to customers when they have a problem or a criticism can prevent one of the social media crises that every manager dreads.
This kind of conversation is primarily handled by marketing people. But it’s dangerous to just view social as a marketing strategy. To show you what I mean, I would like to refer you to the game of Whack-A-Mole. This is an arcade game where you stand with a hammer and have to pound down little “moles” who live under ground and pop out unexpectedly in different places on the game board. The faster you react to the mole popping up, the better your score.
A great marketer is actively listening so that every “mole” in your backyard can be quickly dealt with. The marketer will hear the minute there is a problem and hopefully solve it. And the marketer that’s listening carefully can see problems developing in their early stages.
But even a great marketer isn’t in a position to anticipate where the next mole is going to pop. That’s really the job of the larger management team. What are you doing right or wrong? Where is your organization vulnerable to problems? Don't leave marketing to deal with the consequence. Anticipate them.
One of the challenges is that the drivers of success of companies today are, like our friends the moles, hidden from sight. Today 80% of the value of the average company is intangible. This means that the people, knowledge, processes, relationships and culture that drive success are outside of traditional accounting and management systems. Most people manage intangibles intuitively and lack even basic information about them. And if you aren’t watching these intangibles, the only time you see them is when a problem pops up unexpectedly.
That’s why smarter companies take a more holistic approach to management. They understand the unique intangibles driving their success. And they have concrete information about all the intangibles—the things they do and how they do it. Smarter companies find ways to track the moles while they are still underground, anticipate their moves or prevent them from even entering their yard.