Posted on : 13-11-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Brands, Business, Social Media
So I just got home from the New Tee Vee Live conference in San Francisco. I had a great time meeting friends that I have spoken with many times via Twitter. This was not my typical conference, since normally I have the opportunity to go to conferences more centered on social media or Customer service. I did not have the opportunity to stay in San Francisco long (just about 30 hours), but even though it was quick I did leave with a reinvigorated spirit and deeper friendships. One of those friendships is with Om Malik, who I found to be simply a nice guy. It is funny, because I have seen the fear he can instill in so many people based on his frank and honest writing style. Instead I found a honest, quiet man that is open to laughing at himself.
I enjoyed the dinner the evening before the event. At dinners like this there is always a few speeches and toasts, this was no different. When Om Malik got up he thanked many that contribute to the success at night. Among those that he acknowledged were many members from Comcast, my employer and the main sponsor for the event. In his acknowledgement he went a step further to discuss the great connections he was making with the Comcast team members that were there. I am not sure what he was expecting, but you can tell there was a genuine like on both sides. This was not a surprise, because I know I work with a lot of great people. I was not surprised at the public acknowledgements; let’s face it, that is the nature of these type of events. What did surprise me was the deeper personal conversations I had with Om and members of his team at Gigaom.com. These included advice and honest conversations that were very touching. This was the personal connection that really mattered.
While I was at the event , CBS News played a piece based on an interview we did months ago (A copy of the story is below this post). The piece was regarding the trouble companies have allowing there employees to use social media while at work. To me, as I pointed out in my last post, it is similar to the debate I am sure happened when phones came into the office setting and I know the same exact debate happened when employees were provided access to email. One of my friends, Beth Harte, likes to share a picture of a golfer when she discusses social media with senior executives. She is making the point that social media is the new golf outing to attract clients. I agree in many ways. Of course social media is a little cheaper. For those who point out that social media has a negative impact on productivity, I would ask how long a status update takes on Facebook? How about 140 characters on Twitter? Another question I would ask companies is if they expect their employees to answer their blackberry during off hours? I think that is why they provide them in the first place, so why can’t a little bit of home be brought to the office? Seems to me to be double standard.
If you are a business, social media is a great way to humanize your brand. The only way to humanize your brand is through your employees. They are the most valuable asset to any company and in many ways actually define your brand. Teach them social media, help them engage in it, and create an environment that encourages it. This has been proven to be successful, just look at Zappos. So whether it is in social media, at a business function, conference, or meeting a Customer at a local store, it is all about building and maintaining relationships. Your employees are the biggest company cheerleaders, so please let them go cheer!
I apologize if this post seemed to go in a few directions. While I was writing it I was having a conversation with someone that believes that companies should block social media websites and forbid employees from speaking about the brand. It caused me to go in a little different of a conversation, but, like that individual, there are many people that do not understand the potential positive outcomes by building a social business. Of course the conversation with that person was on Twitter! Some do not see the benefits in gaining Customers, or how this new communication can really help businesses find new solutions and answers. The social web has a lot of potential if a company decides to fully tap into it.