Think back to when you last bought a book – did you check the reviews on Amazon? When you last booked a hotel – did you check the hotel rankings? There is an incredible conversation happening on the social web, and for the first time in history, there is transparency: these conversations are available. The benefits are obvious – but how should you react to this new openness, either as a consumer – or as an organization?
Here are four strategies:
- Ignore the conversation: For some organizations it is an explicit decision not to listen. For others it is more ignorance of the conversation: they don’t even know that it is possible to listen in to what the market is saying.
- Listen and lurk: A brand can be defined by what people say about it – and organizations who listen to the social web are better able to estimate their brand strength, understand their market, and get an early warning when things begin to go wrong.
- Join the party: One step up from lurking, organizations in this tier are actively engaging with their stakeholders. They triage complaints, answer questions – and ask them. They are the face of the organization in the public social web.
- Be the host: At this level, the organization controls its own social destiny by providing the venue, setting the ground rules, and moderating the conversation. Hosting the conversation can happen in a public venue (a Facebook fan page, a LinkedIn group), or within a privately hosted (and sometimes invite-only) section of the organization’s website.
This week’s action plan: Whichever strategy you choose (Ignore, Listen, Join or Host) it need not be exclusive. You may ignore one, join another, and host a third. The key is to be both intentional and strategic. This week, play the what-if game: What would be the impact if you moved up the hierarchy? (Try it and see.)
This post has been written by 108’s Senior Advisor and former CEO Randall Craig.