New business strategies in times of digitization and social web
The revolution on the internet is taking place. And whoever believes that a company page on Facebook or Google+ is the only answer is wrong. The keywords of the social web are: transparency, authenticity, honesty, and quality. “This is more like a new company strategy and not just an extended marketing plan.
“Do not go with it,” does not go in the long run.
Understand the opportunities and manage the risks.
Economy and society seem divided:
The one half hardly uses the possibilities of the internet of the first generation and vegetates with obsolete, static internet pages in the net. This group does not actively use its own homepage as a sales and dialogue channel and monitors all developments such as Facebook, Google Street View, or mobile applications with concern and suspicion.
The other half aligns its own organization to a society and an economy that is becoming more digital and is essentially different from the situation of the past 15 years.
Transparency and credibility are closely linked.
The Nielsen advertising research confirms that the credibility of advertising continues to decline. More than 80% of consumers no longer believe the official advertising promises. The number of convinced advertisers is increasing. More than 80% of the German mailboxes carry the label “no advertising please”.
On the other hand, people seem to lose the fear of betraying something of themselves. On the XING business network, more than 9 million detailed profiles and CVs of entrepreneurs, specialists, and executives can be read in details. The boss-home buyer from Siemens makes itself as findable and approachable as the first deputies of the Bundestage. More than 20 million Germans and 1.2 billion people from all over the world show their faces on Facebook and hardly anyone rejects a “friend request”, if one remembers the previous acquaintance.
It is now possible to observe four very different strategies for how companies deal with these changes:
1. One species could be called “Everything is good, nothing is changed, Social Web is nonsense and Facebook during working hours is prohibited”: Orders cannot be sent, also e-mails and the homepage are static and a typical one-way street communication of the 90s.
2. The “fear of loss of control – representative“.
The representatives of these companies recognize that much is changing. They also realize that advertising campaigns work less well without the involvement of customers. And they hear the impressive numbers of social networks: 1.2 billion members at Facebook. Of these 20 million Germans ….. The biggest internet sites are those, which are exclusively filled by users. You Tube, Wikipedia or Flickr are just some of these representatives.
The decision makers of these companies are also experiencing the fact that customer feedback is often more visible than the official company communication. But they fear the loss of control, which arises from public discussions.
They open a Facebook page through a advertising agency, but they ask the customers for understanding that “there is no room for expressing dissatisfaction or complaints”. (Seen at an insurance company). Often, the employees of these companies are not confessing to these companies. They refuse to use their Facebook profile for public communication. Unlike the chief developers of e.g. Dell, with their “face” in public forums discuss the current development approaches with the best users and customers in public.
3. The third category best describes organizations and companies: “We are always there when there is something new” – but think that the latest developments and Web 2.0 are new advertising and marketing opportunities.
They underestimate the opportunities offered by new networks with customers, business partners, employees and potential employees, because the new culture and philosophy is not supported by the board of directors and the management wars. Twitter without approval process is criticized critically and the social web as a perfect source for research to customer satisfaction or product innovation is not yet discovered.
4. Best in Class” is just a small group of business. They are distinguished by the following:
- All employees are trained on the opportunities and risks of social networks, content sharing platforms, and community marketing. They know how to steer smartly what the public should know about themselves as a person and what not.
- In open forums (often embedded in the social networks), employees and applicants meet and discuss the quality of these jobs and try to find talents that fit the open corporate culture. Responsible and committed, but also critical and courageous. By the way, the staff also know that the “old” application consists of filtered information and prefer to look in YASNI (person search machine), what it is about the candidates to learn. A good blog about your own theme does not hurt as much as the engagement in specialist forums, in which knowledge is shared and permanent learning is a good sound. This is because only shared knowledge increases. In other words, if Google does not find anything, you have not “done” anything. This cannot be denied, at least for companies. When “not to be findable” becomes an image problem, the time decides.
- Specialists, experts, managers are no longer shielded from customers, candidates and their own employees, and only after careful filtering for customers, potential customers or their own team. Example: Michael Dell is directly connected to Facebook with 80,000 of his 160,000 employees and also directly makes suggestions for improvements.
- These companies not only publicly publicize the advertising and PR department, but also the experts and above all the customers (the latter cannot be forbidden anyway). And the “Digital Natives”, the young natives in the digital world receive time resources, knowledge, and technology to take advantage of the opportunities. It is always clear that we are going new ways, and sometimes only a “Try & Error” is a suitable procedure to manage the uncertainties and unpredictability. Well, at least everything is measurable.
Business philosophy today should include:
If you do not want something negative written about you as a company, employer and person, then do nothing as bad as possible. The reputation in Web 2.0 is an essential part of brand positioning. It also consists of what others write about you.
- Management, executives, and managers are employees with different abilities as sellers or customer service, but should also be available as well as the defined contact persons for customers or applicants.
- Criticism and customer feedbacks are always good. They are read, measured, and processed with great attention, and are used for active evaluation and recommendation management.
- In order to be transparent and authentic, you cannot outsource.
- Average quality falls through, only superior quality in the customer orientation will emerge from this revolution as a winner.
(Gabriele Schulze’s White Paper on corporate strategies on the Web)