As a Social Media resource, Im visiting a few of Podtechs customers each week. I'm noticing a trend among the corporations, and talking with folks that are not our clients.
I cut my teeth deploying a program to build communities at a large corporation, I attribute much of my growth observing what other companies were doing, as well as the excellent guidance from thought leaders. Now, I'm visiting companies, talking to good people, and hearing first hand from others that are undergoing the same journey I did.
Being in a role that's closer to deployment now, I don't have the time or resources to do interesting research like Forrester, Pew, Edelman, New Communications, Blog Business Summit, or Social Media Club, so I can only provide you my unscientific observations.
I mainly deal with Tech companies, most that are based in Silicon Valley, certainly in the early adopter phase of new technology. The following observations dont likely represent all other industries across all other geographies.
Corporate Social Media Deployment Trends in Silicon Valley:
1) You're not alone
Many companies are having internal discussions, debates, power struggles, and ego checks as the power of social media collides with traditional communication.
2) The folks that have the most to gain are the most resistant
I wasn't the first to notice that PR folks would resist, Blogging Master Shel Israel noticed this during much of his corporate business blogging consultation in 2006. For those that are Public Relations professionals, there's so much to gain by letting go, the end result? You'll have a large fleet of passionate employees and customers spreading your message farther and faster than you could ever have imagined.
3) Ugly Forced Adaptations
I've seen a few 'viral' videos and forced corporate blogs with corporate double talk or comments disabled be unremarkable. They've combined traditional forced messages without offering a view from customers. They're horrible, and people talk about it online, as well in emails and in person. Getting to authenticity is challenging but when it happens it's a beautiful thing.
4) The Internal Evangelists
There's one in every company. Sometimes two or more that I'm starting to meet. They get it, and want to open the doors at their company to customer communication. They're challenged, stalled to demonstrate proof points, and sometimes are in the unique position to pitch to executives and sometimes the CEO. I used to be one of these people and I respect those that are doing this, going against the grain is difficult, and sometimes an evangelist doesn't have followers.
"Whiners and Bitchers" are what naysayers say about customers that blog. "Influencers and customer spokespeople" are what the evangelists respond. The answer of course varies from individual and to market. One thing is for certain, each voice is easy to find using tools like Technorati and Google. Other challenges are "what's the ROI" what's this mean for the "bottom line", or "is thought leadership the only benefit"
6) Customers waiting for customers to talk back
Companies are starting to listen, using tools like Google, Technorati, and others to listen to what customers are saying. Customers are more than often waiting for these companies to respond to them, answer them, talk to them.
7) Savvy Companies are starting to 'overlay'
Overlay is a layer that sits on top an existing layer. I'm noticing that some of more sophisticated companies are integrating community and social media into all of their marketing efforts, events, announcements, and even inviting them to spend time with executives.
8) Line item budgets are forming
Many of these companies are formalizing dedicated budgets, they come out of PR, Web group, Interactive group, and even field marketing units. As the group forms dedicated full-time employees to focus on this, more budget will be shifted over.
What are you observing?
I know theres folks out there that are also blogging, podcasting, social media consultants, what are you noticing?