More than once, I've heard tales of executives rejecting social media platforms because they personally dislike them. In one instance, a communicator recommend the company adopt FourSquare, but the executive dismissed it saying, "I just hate the concept that you're letting burglars know your house is empty."
Here's a simple guideline for anyone evaluating social channels for their organization to embrace: It's not about you. It's about what your customers are using and the value your engagement in that channel will produce for the company.
Yesterday at the Mayo Clinic social media conference in Rochester, Minnesota, social media healthcare whiz-kid Chris Boyer told me about his decision to adopt FourSquare on behalf of his organization, Inova Health System, a healthcare network near Washington, D.C. As Chris tells it, he discovered that there had been thousands of check-ins at over 90 locations. That's 90 locations within about a dozen facilities Invoa operates. Those locations even include the helipad.
Realizing that many people were checking in when they visited, Chris claimed ownership of each of those locations, which cost nothing other than a fair amount of time; he says it's a laborious process. But now, whenever anyone checks in at any of those locations, Inova can make sure they get a message from the organization. One message reminds visitors that it's flu season and they can get vaccinated at Inova facilities. The number of people who click through to more information would gratify a direct mail marketer. Those that actually get a flu shot represent measurable ROI.
Now, Chris is considering going to the next level, offering specials at Inova gift shops and coffee shops, but for now, he's happy getting time-sensitive information into the hands of people who check in. He's also pleased with the tips people are leaving-and there are a lot of them. Positive tips can help the network spotlight attributes they may not have thought would matter to people. Negative tips can direct Inova to make improvements in places they may not have known they were necessary.
Just imagine if an executive had told Chris, "FourSquare? Stay away from that. A friend of mine says it's a notification system for thieves."
It's about being where your customers are, where you can connect with them and where you can glean insights about them to improve your relationships with them. It's not about you.
Incidentally, Chris will be my guest on an upcoming FIR interview about his FourSquare experience.