Social Media impacts much more than Marketing

I had a great conversation with Anna, an employee at LeverageSoftware, who hosted me for some beers and pizza last night, we had some interesting conversations about how the web impacts much more than Marketing, she spurred on the following post.

Most people describe this Web Strategy Blog as being marketing focused, but in reality, the scope is much larger, it’s just that social media hasn’t made a big enough impact compared to marketing for people to notice.

Social media impacted the PR industry first, to them, it was the most disruptive. Corporate marketers quickly followed suit, and now it’s even impacting other areas of corporate marketing.

Social Media impacts all areas of communication, not just marketing, be prepared for it to evolve product development, support, employee communication, partners, and even influence competition.

Here’s how it’s going to play out, I hope you’re ready:

Marketing
I’ve written enough about the impacts of social media to these groups: Analysts, Press, Media, Prospects, and Customers. Read the community marketing archives, social media archives, or use the search bar on the right column to find posts.

Product Development

Build better products by connecting direct users with the product team, stop guessing at what features to build and fix when the audience can work directly with you. I realize this is hard for many product managers to give up, but like with everything start small and build up to it. Case Studies include Threadless, and Dell’s Ideastorm. At my previous role as an online community manager I would forward product feedback directly to product teams. I currently support customers as rapidly as possible here in my current role.

Product Support

This can actually equate in cost savings, so quantify. Users can self-support each other by answering each others’ questions. Use tools such as forums, social networking tools, and wikis. I highly recommend you consider it be public, but require login and manage by monitoring and gleaming intelligence. If customer has a severe issue, quickly escalate internally. It’s hard to keep product managers from wanting to answer all the questions, but if you let the community build up a knowledge base the product team can gain intelligence. I did this at my previous company with online forums, it cost $4 a week, and I set up a global watch force around the clock. Also see why the company Satisfaction may be a disruption to this market.

Employees
The Intranet is a strong area of focus in my career, I’ve been involved with four enterprise intranets, and have been the manager of two. The opportunity for your internal army to collectively come together and offer solutions, share, and become more effective should be part of the core strategy from the CEO on down. Sadly, many of the legacy CMS tools that were deployed on mulit-million dollar budgets are antiquated and lack social features. I wrote a white paper on Why IT departments an business groups should work together, I started this paper way back in 2005 (published 2006), I guess I was a little ahead of the curve. If your IT department doesn’t support the changes that are happening on the web, employees will naturally find tools available on the open web, thus causing lack of control for IT. IT must adapt and evolve quickly.

Partners
Increased communication and reduction of time, process and cost can occur when vendors and partners are effectively communicating with each other. Tools such as blogs, podcast, can be used to help a reseller to promote a vendor’s content. Collaboration tools of every flavor are available to increase a variety of communications, strengthen those relationships using the web.

Competitors
Intelligence gathering of your competitors is so much easier now with the live and social web. At my previous company, I setup google alerts about my competitors products, executives, and brand. Whenever someone would talk about my competitor, I saw it, told the right people, and would sometimes engage. Remember that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, and that the friend of your enemy should also be your friend, web tools make that easy to do.

Update: I forgot to include recruiting, as I’m reminded here. In fact social media is a communications tool, it impacts nearly every person and department.


Related Resources

  • The Extranet is no longer owned by the company
  • Why marketing is not on two domains only
  • The Many Forms of Web tools (and Social Media too)
  • Also, I hope to see you at the Office 2.0 conference, where I’ve been asked to attend as media.