Social Media in the Workplace
One of the perennial questions for large companies these days is what to do with the emerging Social Media phenomenon.With the advent of Web 2.0, larger IT departments have placed some very strict limitations on the access their employees have to outside Internet sites.Being strong proponent of hiring adults, and then treating them like adults, puts me immediately at odds with that Old Skool line of thinking.(Of course, I disclaim: I have never had to manage an organization that numbered in the many hundreds, if not thousands.)
With that said, let’s get specific.You are running a new home sales team and now have to decide how approach a brand new tool: Social Media.We’re all familiar with the oldest tool, the intake form, registration card, welcome form, or whatever you call that sheet of paper where you try to capture information about your prospective buyer.We ask for a name, and some contact information.Maybe a price range, a number of bedrooms, an ancillary preferred feature or two.Where did they hear about us?Was it the website? Our expensive newspaper ads?But, of course, the only box most of them check is the one about “the signs.”Our next tool is discovery — the process in which we attempt to bond and learn more about the customer so we can professionally direct them to the right home at the right price.Here we want to know about interests, family, commute, favorite recreation activities, etc.Only when we do the discovery process correctly are we best equipped to serve our customer.
Now imagine the value of knowing even more about our prospective clients.Maybe before they visit, or when they return for a second or third look.What if they wrote us a long personal letter, shared who they were friends with, displayed photos of their last vacation and the awesome 10th Birthday Party for their grandson?I’d venture that a new home sales professional would jump at the chance to glimpse that deeply into the lives of their customers.
What I’ve just described is Facebook!Now add to that the family videos posted on YouTube, the photo albums displayed on Flickr.com and the professional contacts shared on LinkedIn.
When a builder of new homes, a planned community or condominium community enters into a professionally managed Social Media campaign, the doors are opened wide to new kinds of relationships with their best prospects.Because of the public nature of the medium, those relationships extend beyond the prospects to include their best friends, family members and the people to whom they turn for validation.If you’re now thinking that sharing all that personal information is a little creepy, note that Facebook, if it were a country, would be the be the 5th largest in the world, with 200 million active members who have an average of 120 friends each. One hundred million visit Facebook every day.*Remember that the information users post about themselves is voluntary. They want YOU to know about their lives.
Facebook (and Social Media, in general) can help you get to know your customers.As a two-way conversation, Social Media can help them to get to know you as well.
Now, back to the IT staff which wants to restrict access.My advice:it’s time to embrace Social Media, give employees access and open new doors for your company.Let senior management set some reasonable expectations for representing the company online and in public, then encourage your sales teams to get social.It’s the next step to getting more business.
* Source: http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics