Say Less and Learn More – Communicate Better
Every company has as many voices in the market as they have employees, products, partners, customers and shareholders. The advent of social communications has empowered these voices to engage with one another in a host of new and unprecedented ways. Unfortunately, while it is now easier than ever for an enterprise to speak with its customers – it is harder than ever for an enterprise to speak coherently, meaningfully and in a timely fashion. Put another way, companies have a very hard time learning to speak with intention, yet as they mature in their use of social technologies this is a critical capability.
Speaking with intention is an acquired skill and unfortunately, at this point in their maturation most companies lack the process and technology to use their official channels effectively. This capabilities gap ought to result in some awfully soft-spoken companies, however the opposite is often true. Many enterprises take the lack of a structure for their communications as a green light to act like the over-caffeinated guy at a networking event. They talk to everyone, aren’t particularly mindful of tailoring their messages to their audience, don’t listen very well and forget to follow up on all the business cards they collect. It gets messy rather quickly.
This inability to speak with intention exposes enterprises to very real business problems, including:
- Increased Risk: The nature of social communication means that every consumer touchpoint is an opportunity to elevate or tarnish the brand. Unplanned speech lacks the support system of moderation, crisis planning, compliance training and tonal guidance of planned communications.
- Channel Fragmentation: This is not necessarily a problem in and of itself, however organic (as opposed to strategic) channel fragmentation exacerbates the risks outlined above, creates confusion for consumers, and reduces the natural amplification capabilities present in a unified social channel.
- Customer Amnesia: When an enterprise speaks without intention it loses the ability to track what it’s saying. Consumers don’t care which little bit of a massive conglomerate they speak with – the company is one entity as far as they are concerned. If the company forgets what they’ve already said, then it breaks down the vision of the enterprise as a unified entity and harms the consumer experience.
Dachis Group’s clients have faced these problems in the past and while it is difficult to make progress in solving them, there are proven techniques for getting started. Here are a couple ideas to help you in your journey:
- Say less: Temporarily limit the number of official communications channels for your company and the degree to which you participate in those channels. Use your social media policy to imbue implicit structure and restraint in how your official (think Facebook page) and unofficial (general employee participation) social channels function. Think of it like writing a haiku. When every syllable counts, you think that much harder about what you are saying.
- Learn more: Channel the resources you used to spend coming up with stuff to say and instead focus it on understanding what you want to say. Take the time to understand your audience, what they respond to, what your competitors are up to and most importantly – why you are speaking. When you return to a broader engagement scheme, you’ll quickly find that your messaging is more informed and effective in light of your newfound knowledge.
- Invest in systems: Put systems (technical and process-based) in place so that you know whom you’ve spoken to, what you said, where you said it, when you said it and what your audience said back. These don’t have to be particularly fancy at first. It may amount to a list of social handles that your community managers have had servicing experiences with in social channels. Long-term however, enterprises must systematically integrate digital identity into their understanding of, and interactions with, their customers (much of this is often bundled into the broader category of Social CRM).
These steps are just a place to get started and there is a whole lot more to pay attention to – ranging from policy development, to decision rights and from stakeholder integration to technical integration. But if nothing else, start here and give us a call for help when you need it.
Image Credit: Kathy Kimpel (CC) on Flickr