I spoke at an event last week to the Institute of Directors Chairmans Group. It was a real honour as this group of people has driven the local business scene for the last 30 years or so. Some great stories over the breaks.
My challenge was thinking what I could tell such an experienced group about technology that would be relevant for Public Company Chairpersons.
I talked about social media and especially Twitter. Boards of Directors need to know about Twitter. Let me explain:Twitter started off as a pretty banal thing a few years ago. In 140 characters you answer the question: “What are you doing”. Here’s what the standard Twitter entry screen looked like:
A typical series of twitter posts might go like this:
- Just got out of bed
- Making toast
- Putting vegemite on my toast
Twitter went nuts and now has over 50 million users. Companies started to use Twitter over Google Adwords because Twitter was providing great opportunities to talk to potential customers. This guy might be a candidate as an example:
You soon learn people don’t hold back on Twitter. It is as raw as that. Cringeworthy but a good sales lead. Don’t worry we’ve had some rough ones as well.
A month or so ago the front page of Twitter changed. Profoundly. See if you can spot the difference.
Twitter hit critical mass and suddenly what Twitter was useful for flipped around.
See what people are saying about … YOUR COMPANY
Twitter has become a real time social graph on almost every business of significance.
Before Twitter, if you had a disgruntled customer, they were hidden in your call center queue. Now they have a voice than anyone can hear and even find some time well after the event. And if you don’t join the conversation they still keep shouting.
So for the company Chairperson and Boards in general they have new risk surfaces they need to consider.
- What is being said online about your business?
- What are your risk minimisation strategies for dealing with social media?
- What additional resources are required to work with social media?
- Do we have an open culture that listens and responds to customers?
Before a board meeting you might just do a Twitter Search and be armed with the perfect question to the CEO
The executive team need to determine who in the business is authorised to engage online.
Significant companies are engaging on Twitter. This exchange between a customer and one our partner banks was fascinating …
A conversation we were having with a technology group inside the bank is surfaced by a customer and the bank is forced to respond directly. Doesn’t that change the dynamic?
Just today another interesting example. Real time, public, performance monitoring of our Sydney account managers:
Isn’t that wild? What if she had of said “Just had two clowns in from ….”?
Twitter is a great example of how business is changing so fast in the connected world.
Our strategy is to engage. That is a real commitment but we feel it’s an investment we need to make. As we are a new company and we are growing quickly we can keep on top of it. Our market is a word of mouth mouth ‘recommender’ model so we have to be on the ball.
But if you are a large company that has been around for a while how do you deal with it? I can understand this stuff is hard for larger organisations with a large customer base. They will likely have some dissatisfied users who have the potential to be very noisy.
I suggest being honest and put processes in place to gather the feedback so you can report on it. I think customers do understand it can take a while to turn the ship around. If you provide a way for customers to engage and have the dialog they may understand and can at least take some satisfaction from venting.
I also suggest diverting some of your customer care staff into monitoring your twitter and blog exposure.
The simple tools to at least monitor what’s been said are:
- Twitter Search: http://twitter.com/#search?q=yourcompany
- Google Alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts
Any other tips for managing social media? Do you agree Boards should be thinking about Twitter?