Through the web businesses can turn one way communication into two way communication. By stimulating conversation and interaction their audience can become more engaged. This is social media.
But debate rages about if businesses should get involved or not, whether it's measurable, if audiences are really 'engaged', how much time to spend on it, how to control employees on social media channels... I could go on. Experimentation is rife, and rightly so. After all, this is so new, no one really knows how to do it perfectly (even all the self confessed gurus out there).
I'm not sure if social media will ever be something that can be pinned down into a nice tidy theory or equation. And that is one of the problems. Traditional businesses are far too used to concrete evidence, one plus one equals two approaches. But social media opens up communication channels that previously didn't exist between business owners and their customers. The result of interaction and conversation is fluid, subjective, variable and unpredictable by its very nature. So business leaders have to move with the times and get used to the fact that we live in an era of 'power to the people' — through social media customers can spread their positive or negative experiences like wild fire. The reality is, your customers are going to be talking about your industry, products or services and probably even you, so it's about time you joined the conversation.
So how about working together to understand social media? Since social media is all about the 'crowd' we decided to change things a little. Instead of declaring ourselves as the latest gurus and dictating how it should be done, we and our partners Turquoise Tiger (together we're LimeStripes) decided to run workshops that empower groups to learn together, from each other.
Through this learning process, we share what we have learned about social media so far and ask lots of questions to stimulate the kind of discussion that leads to the answers. It's a much more interactive way of learning through conversation rather than being blinded by science and yet another tedious Powerpoint presentation. The result is each participant goes away with a clear action plan which they have bought into. Our participants also have access to our online LimeStripes academy where we continue the conversation and learning together.
The next LimeStripes interactive group workshop is on 'What to say on social media channels' and runs on the 9th of December 2011 for £120 (includes refreshments, lunch, workbook and forever access to the online LimeStripes academy)! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.