originally posted on Concept Hub
In our interconnected world of digital communication, everyone in the organization can reach every one of your clients. Companies have a great opportunity to tap into the enormous talent and passions of the organization to shine in today’s global marketplace.
Who within your organization is already participating in online communities? What benefit can they be providing? How are they connecting with current or future customers?
Many organizations fear the answers to these questions and as a result, have placed harsh restrictions or eliminated access to all social networking activities.
But what if an organization had;
- A shared vision that they each felt they were contributing to?
- A high priority for customer satisfaction and retention?
- Felt as though they were part of a team working toward the same objectives for the good of all?
These are goals that many organizations work diligently to achieve. A spirit of ‘community’ from within. This is often accomplished when visions can be clearly communicated, people feel they each make a significant contribution and are asked to be involved in critical decision-making processes, and everyone is held mutually accountable for the success and the failure of the organization.
Online communities allow for peer networks to connect to solve complex problems. Internally this allows for a cross-pollination of knowledge, talents, and experience. Externally the connection naturally extends the organization’s brand awareness and opens the door for a wide variety of new opportunities.
Are there risks? Of course, there are. However, the risk exists whether an organization chooses to embrace community, ignore it, or restrict it. In fact, the risk goes up if an organization ignores or restricts community. As employees are seeking answers to effectively do their job or advance their career, many are already turning to such online communities or leveraging grassroots efforts to organize such collaboration efforts internally. Organizations who have ignored or restricted access to a community have found later that grassroots efforts to form online communities were happening without any sort of guidelines or management.
Recently the benefits of encouraging employees to interact with their customers online were measured through a survey conducted by Communispace of nearly 2,200 members of 20 communities. The results were presented in a study entitled “What Companies Gain from Listening.”
82% were more likely to recommend the client company’s products
76% said they were more positive about the client company
63% now trusted the company more than they did before joining
59% provided positive feedback to friends and family
52% were more inclined to purchase products from the client company Source
Many organizations limit who should be speaking with their customers to Sales, Marketing, PR Professionals or Executives, without taking into consideration that everyone from Janitors to Engineers have established social networks and knowledge that can be mobilized to provide brand awareness, lead generation, superior customer service, referral business and more.
Organizations have traditionally tried to create cultures where each member of the team would be proud of their workplace and in turn, generate goodwill and positive brand awareness during their day to day interactions.
As each member of the organization proudly represents their organization online, similar to wearing a company logo on their shirt on the weekend, the company extends their reach. Because the awareness is coming from a peer within their selected network it is easier to capture their attention. As members of the team are more aware of the needs and goals of their organization because they are part of that community, they are more adept at making connections that are mutually beneficial between different networks. Similar to when introductions are made at social cocktail parties.
By leveraging such networks online in similar ways as we do offline, an organization can take discrete initiatives into the social media world while discovering untapped talent and resources along the way.