I promised a three part series on what everyone needs to know about social media, but because this is such a timely a relevant topic with an impact on virtually anyone and everyone today I am providing a BONUS fourth part to the series which examines how managers must manage social media.
Here is a look back on the previous three parts:
Few things in business and society have been untouched by the social media revolution, one that is not even a decade old. Many organizations have been responding to that new reality, realizing the power and the potential of this technology for corporate life. Shaping their enterprise social media strategy has become part of the job responsibilities for the corporate leader.
This change has created a dilemma for senior executives: while the potential of social media seems immense, the inherent risks create uncertainty and unease. These new media communications can let internal and privileged information suddenly go viral. Social media encourages unscripted conversations that travel various paths across management hierarchies.
Capitalizing on the transformational power of social media while mitigating its risks calls for a newly required skillset for leaders. The dynamics of social media increase the need for qualities that include:
- Strategic creativity
- The ability to deal with a corporation’s social and political dynamics
- Design an agile and responsive organization
Executives must understand the nature of different social-media tools and the dangerous forces they can unleash. Here are 5 tools:
- CREATING COMPELLING CONTENT The tools for producing and sharing rich media are in everyone’s hands. As video communication rises in importance, effective leadership will increasingly require creative skills and the ability to create compelling stories and to turn them into media products. To thrive in the world of social media, leaders need to acquire a mind-set of openness and imperfection.
- LEVERAGING DISTRIBUTION Business leaders have traditionally disseminated information along a controlled chain that begins after the development of a formal creation process. While traditional distribution pathways won’t disappear, social media revolutionizes the standard information process. Social communication makes distribution the starting point and then invites company audiences to create new meaning. Messages are rebroadcast and repurposed at will by recipients who repost videos, retweet and comment on blogs, and use fragments of other people’s content to create their own mash-ups.
Leaders need to master the interplay of two: those of the traditional channels, which follow the logic of control, and of the new channels, where it is essential to let the system’s dynamics work without too much direct intervention. Since executives won’t be able to govern or control a message once it enters the system, they must understand what might cause it to go viral and how it may be changed while spreading through the network. The ability to influence the way messages move through complex organizations becomes as important as the ability to create compelling content.
- MANAGING COMMUNICATION OVERFLOW Social media has created an ocean of information. We are drowning in a never-ending flood of e-mails, tweets, Facebook updates, RSS feeds, and more that’s often hard to navigate. As a first step, leaders must become proficient at using the software tools and settings that help users filter the important stuff from the unimportant. But playing in today’s environment requires more than just filtering skills.
In the social-media realm, information gets shared and commented on within seconds, and executives must decide when (and when not) to reply, what messages should be linked to their blogs, when to copy material and mash it up with their own, and what to share with their various communities. The creation of meaning becomes a collaborative process in which leaders have to play a thoughtful part, as this is the very place where acceptance of or resistance to messages will be built.
- DRIVING STRATEGIC SOCIAL-MEDIA UTILIZATION In most companies, social-media literacy is in its infancy. Excitement often runs high for the technology’s potential. But without guidance and coordination, social-media enthusiasm can backfire and cause severe damage.
To harness the potential of social media, leaders must play a proactive role in raising the media literacy of their immediate reports and stakeholders. Executives should become trusted advisers, enabling and supporting their environment in the use of social tools, while ensuring that a culture of learning and reflection takes hold. As a new and media-savvy generation enters the workplace, smart leaders can accelerate organizational change by harnessing this digital expertise.
To achieve this goal, leaders must become tutors and strategic captains of all social-media activities within their control, including the establishment of new roles that support the logic of networked communication. Organizational units that leverage the new technologies in a coordinated and strategically aligned way will become more visible and gain influence in a corporation’s overall power dynamics.
- STAYING AHEAD OF THE CURVE The next generation of connectivity will link together appliances, cars, and all kinds of objects. As a result, there will be about 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.3 This transformation will open new opportunities, spawn new business models, and create yet another major inflection point that leaders must manage.
It’s imperative to keep abreast of such emerging trends and innovations—not just their competitive and marketplace implications, but also what they mean for communications technologies, which are fundamental for creating an agile, responsive organization.
Scot Dickerson, CPC President