IT’S NO LONGER OUR DECISION

Nancy Myrland All Posts, Client Service and Retention, Social Media 17 Comments

The other day I read, and commented on, a post from Twitterville author Shel Israel, in which he was discussing his assertion that social media is now at the end of a period of great disruption, and is now entering a longer, quieter period of normalization.

The thoughts I shared on his blog, along with a few new additions, are these:

Business, as well as all kinds of institutions and organizations, make decisions for all kinds of reasons. Fear, uncertainty, arrogance, competition, desperation, passion, nurturing, empathy, sympathy, follow-the-leader, follow-the-loser and a host of other factors go in to good and bad decisions and developments.

I think we are in the midst of several worlds co-existing in Social Media. One is the world of those who dove in head-first, embraced tools that are the most revolutionary communication and connection tools we have witnessed in many years, and are continuing to use them to their advantage. Another world is of those who are curious, are dabbling and are scurrying around experimenting. Another is the world of those who think Social is the devil, and, by golly, they don’t need it to survive and they’re going to prove that to everyone by holding out!

Many worlds exist in between the three I mentioned. What is important for all to know is that it is no longer our decision, but our clients and potential client’s decision regarding how they expect to be communicated with, how they want their problems solved, the speed at which they expect an answer, and the way they are evolving with their comfort level and knowledge of tools available to them.  As they evolve, so does our need to evolve and meet them where they live and do business on a daily basis.  In fact, I’m a firm believer that we should get there first if at all possible so we are there, communicating and establishing relationships comfortably. Wouldn’t we all like to be welcomed by our service providers rather than welcoming them down the road?

It’s time to jump in strategically, and to take advantage of the tools and the gifts we have been given that allow us to be closer to those whom we would like to care about our products and services.

Many thanks to AmandaJoy2008 for the Flickr image used above.

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16 comments
Steve Bell
Steve Bell

To paraphrase what Legal OnRamp CEO Paul Lippe often voices: "Clients Drive Change." It's been a little more than a year now since inside-counsel innovator, Jeff Carr, at FMC Technologies conducted the first known Web 2.0 "non-RFP' process, which included -- as one component -- Tweets from the law firms competing to be part of FMCTI's litigation network. While other companies have not yet taken it that far, those of us in law firms who sell legal services to companies are well aware of their vigorous adoption of digital collaboration tools -- both internally and externally. Prominent voices in the world of lawyering -- notably many of the lawyers who run the Association of Corporaet Counsel -- are in the mainstream of social media these days. Outside lawyers are risk-averse and just plain busy. But they are coming along, some faster than others. To paraphrase Susan Hackett, the General Counsel of the ACC, there's a lot of evolution in the social media (r)evolution.

David Polinchock
David Polinchock

Nancy:

Thanks for the reply and you make a really excellent point. In fact, it's a point that to few SM experts make today. Not enough people are advocating the strategic uses of the right tool, all too often it's just "here's what's new & cool and you should use it." To many of these consultants, they would be talking to Monistat about how to use Twitter or FB or foursquare because to them, discussion groups or blog posts are old school. The big message I try to drive is that we need to stop the "new vs old" battle and focus on what you said -- "This isn’t jumping on any particular bandwagon, but realizing we need to be responsive to their needs in order to provide the best client service we know how to provide."

Thorne
Thorne

I've seen a few revolutions in my time.

When I started my career, nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- had a microcomputer on his desk. At the publisher I was working for, I was first: an Apple II+

(If you like, you can read more about what I did here: http://misterthorne.org/?page_id=479)

When I saw possibilities, others saw nothing. Nothing, that is, until the IBM PC came along running VisiCalc. That was a real game changer.

Once PCs starting getting popular, it was no longer only hobbyists, enthusiast, devotees and such with an interest in the gizmos.

The suits showed up.

Then, 15 years later, the Mac and the LaserWriter hit the scene, and I jumped into the desktop publishing revolution.

(You can read what I did here if you like: http://misterthorne.org/?page_id=488)

Suits didn't take so long to show up. Heck, they were in on it.

Now everyone (OK, some) are crazed with excitement over Twitter, and what strikes me about it as so different from those earlier revolutions is this: the money men are in the lead. By far, most of what I find on Twitter is some sort of an ad: read what I wrote; buy what I sell, etc.

And that makes Twitter much less of a social media tool, than a new form of billboard.

Hang on, Nancy. Just about everyone but the Ted Kaczynskis out there will get on board when it's time. There's really no rush. Phones still work; so does e-mail. For most of us, Twitter can wait.

Eria Odhuba
Eria Odhuba

This is a brilliant post - great commentary on the need to understand how clients want to be communicated to. It highlights the problem many professional services firms face, which is the one-size-fits-all approach to dealing and communicating with customers across various niches. Social media provides an opportunity to engage brilliantly with those that prefer this channel to market, but one can not ignore other, though complementary methods, to deal with those that may be rather slow on the uptake.

As you said - "Many worlds exist in between the three I mentioned"

David Rosen
David Rosen

The power and reach of so-called social media is immense and undeniable. Those of us in communications and marketing need to take advantage of what it has to offer. That said, social media can be fickle and hard to control and is increasingly suspect when it comes to marketing. Where it will all lead, no one knows. The only thing I know for sure is that it will change dramatically in the years to come. In the meantime, all aboard! But don't lose site of traditional media.

David Polinchock
David Polinchock

I've actually challenged the revolutionary aspects of social media for some time. SM isn't new, it's how we've communicated with each other for centuries. On this holiday celebrating the birth of our nation, we have to remember that it was pamphleteers who helped drive us towards the fight for independence.

What is revolutionary is the speed & breadth of our ability to communicate. We're no longer required to stand on the street corner handing out our pamphlets to get our messages across. And the most important thing to remember about communicating to your audience is that you should communicate in the language that they speak. You'll be just as hard pressed to reach my Mom on SM as you might be to reach a college student with an ad in a national magazine.

And nothing against them, but there are just some brands that we don't want to be social with? Would you follow a brand like Monistat? Would you friend them on FB? What would you think if they suddenly started following you or requested to be your FB friend?

And despite the "relationship" discussions around SM, I still think that most brands are using SM as a different way to broadcast. I can barely keep up with the 2200 or so people that I follow, how can a brand follow thousands? And I still question whether or not most brands really want to have a conversation with the consumers. I think that it's really a lot of back & forth listening more then anything else.

Without a doubt, as has happened in the past, there will be some people that don't see the new tools and don't know what to do with them. People were against the Gutenberg Press. But I'm also concerned with the broad generalizations that people put on SM. The truth be told, it's like any other tactic that people can bring to the table.

At the heart of it, brands need to create compelling, authentic and relevant brand experiences to engage their audience. Once they've done that, then it's much easier to find the right way to engage their audience.

Samantha Collier
Samantha Collier

Another great post Nancy. I also agree social media is here to stay and will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. I see proof of this in my firm with the younger employees. They do everything via social media. I agree with Deb about how social media has revolutionized how we communicate and connect with our audience.

Deb Dobson
Deb Dobson

Nancy, I couldn't agree more with this post. I see it daily in discussions I have with those who have jumped in and headlong embraced it, those who are trying to catch up and those that simply think it is a waste of time, an obstacle to business. It truly is a revolution in the way we communicate and connect with our clients, our audience. A great post and so right on target!! Great job.

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