Consider these stats:
- Social networks and blogs are the 4th most popular online activities online, including beating personal email.
- It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners. Terrestrial TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users. The internet took four years to reach 50 million people... In less than nine months, Facebook added 100 million users. ~ Econsultancy:
What do those stats mean? We want connections. We want our connections. That desire and our behavior is driving the technology to give us those meaningful connections.
Radio was a broadcast media: one to many. We were content in radio’s heyday to listen to one person’s voice giving us one point of view: “Communications media, from telegrams to phone calls to faxes, are designed to facilitate two-conversations...The patterns we didn't have until recently was many-to-many, where communications tools enabled group conversation.” ~ Here Comes Everybody, by Clay Shirky
Social media provides the tools to allow us many-to-many, conversations. Look what's happened. Now, we realize we each have something unique to say. And we want to connect our voice with the voices of our community. We want our connections. Clearly, we’ve found it, too, with social media sites like blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace.
These connections at these communities are where we show our strengths, our passions, our causes. See the possibilities? Our Strengths combined with our passions and our causes. The result is a never-ending source of volunteers connecting what’s needed with what strengths are offered by the members. A perpetual energy source from volunteers voluntarily gathering for a common purpose.
What’s this mean for business? Glad you asked.
What’s the most important asset for a company and its brand? No, it’s NOT their branding agency. No, it’s not their charismatic CEO. The most important asset for a company is its human asset. That’s all the people and their energy, creativity, motivation, ideas, determination and strengths and skills that deliver the brand and the company’s results.
What’s the biggest challenge for a company and its brand? Finding a constant source of talented, motivated, people. Finding or coaching A-Players. By coincidence it’s also its biggest expense, too.
What if a company was able to constantly connect and re-connect its stakeholders (customers, employees, shareholders, vendors and partners) to match their strengths with their passions with their common causes? What if a company was able to allow their volunteers to have a voice, their voice, individually and collectively?
Would the upheavals of this recession be as wrenching? No. Big ripples in little corporate ponds versus the tidal waves of upheaval we see now. If a business could do that, their employees would transform into volunteers. Paid volunteers. But still volunteers with all the passion and commitment volunteers bring when their strengths are connected with their passions to pursue their causes.
Justin Wolfers talks about That means thinking in terms of opportunity costs. Making decisions around doing what you love makes your more efficient. Really? Yes. How? By doing what you love and paying for it by doing what you are good at. What if you combined doing what you love and doing what you’re good at? That’s the Holy Grail of management. Finding A-players who love what they do and do what they’re good at.
That’s what’s happening in social media. Connections. People matching their strengths with their passions to fulfill their causes. And people do it for free, all day long. And no one's interfering. Here's another thing that's interesting about social media, its use and members and growth. The members decide which projects receive their energy, passion and strength. And time. Only the members decide.
What if they got paid to do this? What if you created positions where you matched what people love to do with what they were good at? And what if you allowed them a voice to continue this process, allow it and their positions to evolve in response to their needs with their passions and strengths and causes.
(It seems a little loose doesn't it? But if you could find 100 million new users of your service within the next 9 months would you try letting go a bit? Ok, what about a more , of 100,000 new users? Would you try this? Maybe you could achieve a 6-fold growth in revenues in 6 years like Ricardo Semler of Brasil-based SEMCO achieved when he turned controls over to his employees.)
That’s your opportunity as a business. And the many-to-many group communications technology in social media, together with our desire to find meaningful connections is the driver to change behaviors. Mostly the behaviors of management who still believe they need to be in control.
You're still not sure.
Think about your reduced training costs. Think not? Consider the . It’s a twitter-site branded with BestBuy where all of their customer service agents tweet responses live to customers using Twitter. All of the customer service agents can see all the discussions and solutions from all the others. That's employees training employees.
Think about your employee motivation costs. What if your employees could see opportunities and conversations where they could join and add value, solutions, ideas? Get praise, praise others. Share ideas with each other. Head off calamities. Find big solutions in less time. Celebrate mistakes as they happen once, now. Only once. Earn the recognition of your peers. (Very powerful motivator.)
Think about your reduced customer service costs. Twitter DMs are much cheaper than a phone call. They are free. And what if your customers could hear the answers to their same problem as you shared those answers with another customer? Well, you wouldn’t need to take their call and repeat the answer. They wouldn’t need to wait for you to repeat it. This Twitter stream does just that. Customers can see solutions being shared with other customers. Customers training customers while their questions are answered.
Think about reduced marketing costs. What if a prospect could see, experience, how quickly you respond to your customer’s questions? Think that would help with your conversions?
You see. There's a whole lotta shakin' and connecting already going on. And a whole lot more will go on in the future. We only just started. Great balls of fire!
Where will you be? Shakin and connecting? Or being shook and disconnected.
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About the author: Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He previously served as CEO of a small business. Zane’s blog can be found at Zane Safrit.