When you move to a new place, you are likely to experience a certain degree of culture shock. Though it can be very difficult for some, it is a worthwhile experience. The experience perpetuates learning a “new space” with “new people“. In some cases it is also about learning new customs and even a different language.
Culture shock is a known and documented phenomenon that virtually everybody who crosses from one culture to another experiences to some degree. It is a reaction to moving and living amongst people who have different customs, tastes and values from your own, often in a new language. Sound familiar?
Moving To Social Media
Whenever I meet with managers of a business to discuss social media the initial reaction is much like a “cultural shock”. Before meeting with any prospective client I always do my homework. I seek to learn about the company’s history, management team, products and services as well as their historical performance. Additionally I always check the “marketplace of conversations” to see what people are saying about the company and its offerings. It is always revealing to compare what a company says on their web site and what people have to say throughout the social web.
In 100% of the meetings I’ve had with businesses they are “shocked” to find out what the marketplace is saying about them. They are also shocked to find out what their competition is doing with social media. To add intensity to the “shock treatment” I usually take them over to Linkedin and show them how easy it is to find their clients, their prospects and their competitors. Fueling the fire it is amazing when I show business people the Linkedin Group function and find “groups formed” around their particular market segments and the related conversations.
The Final “Shock Treatment”
Typically the results of showing businesses a few simply illustrations the sense of urgency to engage in the marketplace of conversations follows. Then comes the proliferation of questions about “how to” relative to technology, communities, who should do what, how often, do we need a blog? etc. etc. My typical response is “do nothing until you learn how to converse with your market in a human voice”. This usually gets a stare which is followed by “how long does it take to learn all this stuff?”. To which I respond, “About as long as it takes you to unlearn“. Yet another stare.
In many cases when you open peoples eyes to the power and influence of social media they will run off and initiate something without having the base knowledge of how to do things right and to do the right things. Subsequently they end up doing things wrong and doing the wrong things. The difference in outcomes is driven by knowledge, not technology. Knowledge comes from experience and from other people.
Running out and using the technology isn’t knowledge, it is copying what others are doing. The funny thing about copying is that you’ll never create market differential and you’ll end up putting out “cheap conversations” that add little value. Don’t be shocked when the results you subsequently create are not the results you desired when you started.
Failure to gain the right knowledge may mean you wake up some day only to discover your market has moved, your employees have left and your shareholders want to know what happen. Will you be shocked?
What say you?