Social Media: A Required Paradigm Shift

“Most companies recognize social media as a disruptive force that will gather strength rather than attenuate.”

“This needs to change. We are convinced that organizations that develop a critical mass of leaders who master the six dimensions of organizational media literacy will have a brighter future.”

“They will be more creative, innovative, and agile. They will attract and retain better talent, as well as tap deeper into the capabilities and ideas of their employees and stakeholders.”

“They will be more effective in collaborating across internal and external boundaries and enjoy a higher degree of global integration.”

Courtesy of: Six social-media skills every leader needs, McKinsey Quarterly

Each of the above statements highlights the growing role of social media in the daily lives of an organization’s employees, leadership, management, and the customers with whom the company engages on a regular basis. While the growth of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook has been explosive over the past decade, it is still important to remember that these tools are still infants in the realm of organizational/business exploitation. Yes, sure, large multi-national corporations have successfully developed and deployed very success social media campaigns and maintain a strong presence on a handful of social media websites (Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Vine, YouTube, Yelp, FourSquare, the list goes on..and on…), however the level of exploitation has not reached its critical mass.

 There are a handful of organizations that either have no presence or a poorly management/maintained presence, on social media platforms. The number is difficult to quantify due to the operation of these organizations in the traditional realm, but the reality remains that if every small-business, non-profit and non-governmental organizations, and governments were found on social media platforms that the growth of said platforms would be not explosive, but even nuclear.

“Most companies recognize social media as a disruptive force that will gather strength rather than attenuate.”

The decision to forgo social media is extremely costly. Executives at an organization that is fearful of embracing social media is clearly fearful of losing control or power over the way information is shared with the public. Transparency and a willingness to engage with various communities in an open environment has easily become a prescription to improving, and maintaining, a positive image. The ultimate reality, and wake-up call, is that an organization’s potential customers, volunteers, and additional stakeholders are already online and using social media platforms to connect with individuals all over the world.

 Ultimately, an organization needs to have a presence on social media platforms before attempting to increase audience or outreach efforts through traditional media tools. Otherwise, an organization is very well ignoring a sizable number of people who very well may be interested in the work it does, or products it makes, by the company not exploiting social media.

“This needs to change. We are convinced that organizations that develop a critical mass of leaders who master the six dimensions of organizational media literacy will have a brighter future.”

The second point emphasized by McKinsey Quarterly builds organizational value in the skill-sets of leaders (read: not managers) who are ready and loaded to exploit the extremely deep potential of social media. Not only can organizations connect and encourage two-way communication with various external audiences, but the potential also exists to utilize internal social networking capabilities to help inter and cross-divisional employees/volunteers to work collaboratively to solve organizational problems.

Strategic communicators know very well the benefits of marketing and brand building through well known social networks to customers, but the largely untapped talent of an organization’s employees or volunteers also provides a wealth of opportunity to reach an even larger pot of people. If encouraged, and with appropriate legal understanding that doesn’t jeopardize any corporate sensitivities, employees and volunteers can engage with friends and family through internal organization networks to help solve product issues or to field organization recommendations for new products or outreach avenues. Realistically, the potential is endless. Ultimately, it will depend on leaders at multiple levels of an organization providing the positive influence on developing social media processes and encouraging exploitation of said processes that build a positive image for the organization and engage with the respective audience.

“They will be more creative, innovative, and agile. They will attract and retain better talent, as well as tap deeper into the capabilities and ideas of their employees and stakeholders.”

What better way to develop internal talent than, as a leader of an organization, to highlight the immense power of human capital by building a cadre of talented professionals that are comfortable utilizing social environments to work creatively and collaboratively?

This of which leads directly into:

“They will be more effective in collaborating across internal and external boundaries and enjoy a higher degree of global integration.”

In both of the previous statements, the “they” are those working on behalf of the organization’s chief mission with the end goal of improving the processes or products in which the organization represents. Interestingly, the grand outcome desired through this embrace of social media platforms, both internal and external, is a desire to reduce barriers to ingenuity. A true freedom to express the desires of a creative community, whether it is in the IT field with technicians using open-source and community based feedback loops or online town-hall type meetings with cross-divisional employees, young adults and teens are not the only ones who should be utilizing social media to help solve problems or to collaborate with likeminded individuals. Organizations, large and small, must embrace social media platforms, not just as a means to reaching and engaging with customers and potential customers, but to also help aid in internal and even external problem solving. Social media allows for a level of openness that is very rarely seen within the confines of a traditionally viewed business environment. This new level of openness, and the potential that it holds, is very powerful. Ultimately, a great deal of creative good can come from reducing barriers to collaboration. Use it, unless you wish for your organization to fall well behind the ever accelerating pack of early adopters utilizing social media to accomplish portions, if not all, of respective organization’s missions.

Good luck – it is not as terrifying as you may think. 

:: Six social-media skills every leader needs, McKinsey Quarterly

 

 

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