To fully appreciate the power of Social Media, we first need to review where we have been and where we are now.
Traditional marketing and communications have been rooted in some very simple principles - message generation, control and what I like to call "telling."
Let's look at each piece. Whether you are creating a marketing campaign for the public or an internal communication for employees, you always start with the question: what are we trying to achieve? Is it increased revenues? Increased awareness? Increased sales? Or, is it to influence certain behaviours? Once we know what we are trying to achieve, and know what message will help us achieve our objective, we then decide what tool(s) we are going to use to reach our audience(s).
If you are launching a campaign, you will be very specific in knowing what medium you are using to reach and "tell" your audience what you need them to know in order to influence their behaviour.
If you want to share organizational changes or an announcement of some important initiative with employees, you will determine what is the best way to share that information and when.
Regardless of the audience, your marketing and/or communications department will want to have a very tight reign on the development, execution and even measurement of the effectiveness of said activity. In other words, they want to control the message and hopefully control the resulting behaviour.
So, regardless of whether or not it is the campaign or the employee communication, as marketers/communicators we are "telling" people what they should do, think or believe.
To make a long story short, traditional marketing and communications is ALL about having control and "telling" people something. There has not been any real true two-way dialogue.
Let's not kid ourselves here please. We all know that Best Practices cite that marketing and communications is all about two-way dialogue, but in all honesty how was this done before? How could it be done? If you see an ad, how do you generate a dialogue that involves the company and other people? Sure, you could buy their product and maybe tell a friend. Or, you could send them a letter, but how does that really generate two-way dialogue? If you get a memo from the president of your company, how do you get more information? Can you ask someone in the company in another location? I suppose, but not easily.
Enter Social Media....I would dare say that this is the first time in history that real dialogue can occur and is occuring.
In my next posting I will speak more about this two-way dialogue and how it can impact you.