How to win the social media game as an organization?
On the 18th of November 2011, the Social Media Network of the European Commission organized an internal workshop inviting social media experts in order to discuss the impact of new communication trends on organizations.
Three experts were invited to share their expertise and experiences in the field: SMIT researcher Jo Pierson, Colin Hensley (Consulting Partner at Hensley Partners) and Márton Hajdu (spokesperson of the Permanent Representation of Hungary to the European Union).
Employee viewed as 'the portal'
Jo Pierson highlighted the difference and interplay between mass communication, interpersonal communication and “mass self-communication” where the latter is connected with the social media context. The employee is increasingly viewed as “the portal” instead of the organization as such. This view is associated with the notion of “networked individualism” where the impact of the Internet in structuring social relationships contributes to new patterns of sociability based on individualism. This increases freedom but also responsibility, hence empowerment and vulnerability are becoming major challenges for organizations with regard to social network sites and other social media. “Few organizations have a specified policy regarding the use of social media”, Pierson stated.
1. listen 2. engage 3. measure!
The importance of the content and the place where this content is communicated was also emphasized by Colin Hensley. He highlighted the importance of social media as one way of increasing the knowledge and awareness of the organization’s stakeholders, among which customers, partners and media representatives it works with. For example the importance of creating a blog, to give the organisation “a face". His core message was : “1. listen 2. engage 3. measure!”.
'Human face' of the politicians
The third speaker, Márton Hajdu, talked about the use of social media during the European presidency of Hungary. The topic Hajdu covered was how to use social media to efficiently engage citizens during a political campaign. Politics, and more so European politics, are often being critized for being too ‘elitist’ and too far removed from the daily business of most Europeans. This should not necessarily be so, argued Hajdu, stating that political groupings must try to communicate openly, providing interested people with correct and concise “bits” of information. Showing a “human” face should be at the core of politician’s social media communication strategies.
Social media are opportunities as well as threats. Whether they are the one or the other depends on how they are treated by the stakeholders. One thing became clear: preparation is key to winning the social media game.