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.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Steve, thank you for contributing your perspective, as well as those of others who have spoken on this topic, or who are taking part in the discussion. Susan Hackett is exactly right. I often tell people that as much as I can study and immerse myself in Social Media, and to learn how these tools fit in to the marketing and business development plans of a firm, and I do spend a great deal of time on this, the one thing I know is that it changes on a daily basis. Not only are the tools changing, but their use is changing also. In the grand scheme of marketing and communication, these digital tools are still new, so staying on top of them is very important. Paul Lippe is right, and we need to remember this: Clients DO Drive Change! It is also the case that sometimes we help them adapt to changes that are taking place in the marketplace because they, too, are very busy. They don't always have the time to learn the most current communication tools that are out there. I have suggested that firms take the lead and provide Social Media training to their clients, and not because this is training I'd like to conduct, but because clients look to their firms as business advisors as well. This is one way firms can position themselves by adding value to the business relationship they have with their clients. Again, Steve, thank you very much for commenting. I appreciate it!

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."

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

David P: You, too, make excellent points. It's so important for companies and firms, and their marketing and business development leadership, to stay on top of every aspect of marketing, or at least ask for help in order to take all tools in to consideration. To me, there is no such thing as new or old. Some tools are called in to play for different reasons. It takes depth of knowledge and use to understand which tools should be called in to play for specific clients, as well as the willingness to reach out to these clients to try to understand what they need. Thanks for the discussion.

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.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Hi Thorne...thanks for your comment. I don't believe I was advocating Twitter, or any one tool. What I was advocating was after strategic planning for one's business, and discovering where your clients are spending their time, how they like to communicate, and what their expectations are, it then becomes important to meet them where they are. 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. Thanks for stopping by!

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"

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks for your comment Eria. Yes, we are living in a time when clients are very much in charge. This economy has left people with the urgency to make the best decisions with the hard-earned money they have. They are in a position to expect responsiveness and communication on their terms. One size definitely does not fit all.

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.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Hi David. Yes, I agree, these tools will definitely change. They will change at a more rapid pace than many other tools you and I have used over the years because the users are as much in charge, if not more, than the developers, which creates a very interesting phenomenon! Thanks for stopping by!

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.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Hi David...thanks for taking the time to stop by, and for commenting. Yes, you are right. We have been socially communicating for centuries. What has changed are the tools, and people and companies are struggling to learn and use them effectively. I wouldn't follow Monistat, but I'm pretty sure their users might be interested in discussion groups, blog posts, etc. about their condition. These are all tools that can be considered Social Media as well. Yes, there will be some who don't know what to do with these tools, much like there were probably some who stood on the street corner and let people walk by without sharing their pamphlets with them too. Discussions like these help all of us define best uses, which is wonderful. Thanks for stopping by!

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.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks Samantha. I think becoming familiar with these tools, realizing they aren't that difficult to use, and that they truly can help nurture and grow relationships will make a big difference in the way we communicate with everyone in the future. Thanks for stopping by!

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.

Nancy Myrland
Nancy Myrland

Thanks for commenting Deb. It will be very interesting to see how this discussion changes in the months and years to come. We will read these posts in disbelief because of the drastic change in culture that is taking place around the world.

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