By: Yvonne DiVita
on Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Once upon a time in Corporate America, so the fable goes, the Executive Team ruled. The CEO and COO and C-level this or that called all the shots. The bottom line dictated every activity, every movement, every thought, every coffee break - whatever happened in the company happened because the C-level team was consumed with the bottom line.
Back in those good old days (labelled so by the C-level team because, after all, they ruled with a mighty fist back then), the folks who kept the company afloat - yes, the people who did the mundane work of producing product, were cogs in a wheel and not much more. The customers - well, they were necessary, of course, but other than recognizing the need for customers, the focus of the good old days was to produce the kind of product the C-level team could be proud of, it wasn't to satisfy customers. The C-level team favored the Henry Ford approach. Henry Ford wrote in his autobiography, "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black".
Enter... the new millennium. Enter social media. Enter the power of the customer to call the shots.
We don't live in the good old days, anymore. We live in the here and now and the reality of turning your brand over to your customers is giving some C-level team members the heebie jeebies. They're shaking their heads in dismay, wondering where it will all end. "I don't need social media
," they declare, loudly and fiercely. "My customers aren't on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, Pinterest - they know where to find me. At my website!"
Shades of 1990 - when the cry was, "I don't need a website! My customers don't go online!" Really? Is that so?
Just as that statement in the early days of the Internet was wrong-headed, so the thought that "my customers are not on social media" is as wrong as wrong can be. Truth is - Facebook is growing by leaps and bounds. Twitter is unstoppable. Pinterest is the favored new toy of many. Surely, some of them
are your customers, yes?
It's time to get serious about social media. Where does it fit in the new Once Upon a Time in Corporate America fable? Everywhere.
It's not that brands aren't participating in social media. It's that they are - in all the wrong ways. Too many brands are convinced that social media is comprised of making announcements on Twitter - to their 1,000 followers. They've started a Pinterest page to showcase their latest products and ask people to share because... that's what social media is, sharing. They've hired 'experts' to help them be successful but their 'experts' are just like them - full of themselves and their 'knowledge' and unwilling to step out of the corporate box to explore innovative ideas with people who know the product better than they do.
It's time to bring the Once Upon a Time in Corporate America fable into this millennium. Let's bring the best of those good old days into our way of doing business as social beings. Let's bring back "the customer is always right". Let's embrace the old town, corner store way of doing business, where you took time out of your day to talk to your customers. Let's make social media more social - by bringing the corporate voice, the authentic voice spoken by the real CEO, to the conversation.
Once Upon a Time in Corporate America the story of your business was told by loyal customers at family picnics, social gatherings, church functions, and over coffee at the local coffee shop. Today, the story of your business is being told on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and hundreds of blogs across the blogosphere. There is one difference - today, the message reaches more people, more quickly, more effectively, than ever before. And, today, the people telling the story want to have conversations with everyone at your business, not just an assigned 'voice' - who only speaks PR.
Are you ready to participate? Or, are you assigning this to someone else... because you still hanker after the lingering control of that 20th century fable called Once Upon a Time in Corporate America?