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Social Media “Changes to the Trends”

October 27, 2010

The trend has been toward more open communications for years. The Internet, websites, and email have been around for years and slowly connecting people around the world.  The trends are always easy to see, they are talked about in the newspaper and in all the popular magazines. It’s cocktail party chatter and the talk at your kid’s swim meets or soccer practice.

True business competitive advantage comes when you can see the “changes to the trends”. This was driven home to me by Ram Charan, wonderful business thinker and author, who lead a business case analysis for us at the Penn State School of Business back in 1993.  He told us to ask 5 questions as we analyze change and the changes to the trends:

  1. What are the patterns of the change and what’s causing those changes?
  2. How will one make money in the changing pattern of business?
  3. What set of skills are required to design and drive the game in the new environment?(Skills and processes must precede vision and strategy)
  4. What 3 to 5 strategic options exist for us?
  5. What 5 actions can we take over the next 12 months to be ready to strike?So, let’s answer a couple of Ram’s questions.
First the pattern of the change includes a few things like:
  • Companies not listening to the online voice get brought to their knees
  • Reputations can be damaged overnight by online dissatisfied customers or employees
  • Who people trust, their friends, are now the main source of branding messages
  • Employees are using social media and mobile at work, whether companies like it or not
  • Web video can be your best friend or worst enemy. You may be on YouTube when you least expect it. It can also get your message out in a clear, concise medium and for free
  • “ Responsiveness” has changed forever, we have a world where instant response via text message is the norm
The causes of the change are the massive introduction of easy to use, free social medial applications connected through the high bandwidth, low cost Internet. All this puts us in instant communications with anyone, anywhere, anytime. The lines between company, employee and customer are being blurred. Amateur bloggers are often instant experts carrying significant weight, enough to get corporations attention and action. One-to-many and many-to-many communications are coming fast as we build beyond the new and wonderful one-on-one communications worldwide. Almost anyone with an Internet connection, a video camera, or a simple blog can reach a global audience and have an impact.

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