- If you contracted with a builder for a custom home, would you enjoy seeing its progress in an online gallery? Canadian builder Martell Homes has added such a feature to its website.
- If you were working on increasing share for a sports drink, would you like to measure social media conversations in real time? PepsiCo does this with its Gatorade Mission Control Center.
- If you were solving a complex problem at work, would you appreciate having quick access to your company’s smartest minds? Pitney Bowes makes an internal micro-blogging platform available. And it offers employees multiple ways to access this enterprise-level network.
Linda Zimmer, a business strategist and the founder of Orange County, Calif.-based MarCom:Interactive, uses these three examples to illustrate a fundamental shift underway. Businesses are reorganizing to profit from a digital world.
“It’s a competitive advantage for a business and a big cultural change,” says Zimmer. “Today, more and more businesses understand social media as a strategic asset.”
Zimmer calls this shift the transition to a modern organization. And she recently shared her insights during a luncheon meeting of IABC’s Orange County chapter.
If you are just starting on the social media path, Zimmer recommends that you begin with listening. “It will change your strategy,” says Zimmer. “It will help you discover what communication channels are best and how you can truly engage people.”
She also emphasizes the importance of measurement so that you can show the return on investment of your efforts. “If you don’t have access to web analytics, you’re going blind,” advises Zimmer.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) can also help you analyze the effectiveness of social media tools. Depending on your goals, Zimmer suggests selecting several KPIs and measuring them. Among the 60 she shared:
- Has your website’s content generated media interest?
- Are customers engaged enough to comment on your blog?
- How much time does a customer spend on your website?
The modern communicator
Whether you work for a big company or small, the shift is “turning communications inside out.” But change can also lead to improvement — a noteworthy one being the break down of silos within organizations.
Ultimately, this cross-functional sharing and use of social media will strengthen organizations and improve their ability to engage customers and other stakeholders.
As a digital media leader and educator, Zimmer sees strong opportunities for communicators who can guide their organizations during the transition. “The challenge for you is to step up and become an executive leader surrounding the communications function,” says Zimmer.
What competencies make for career success? Zimmer counts a remarkable 137 but counsels communicators not to worry. In fact, most relate to analysis — a competency today’s communicator already has.
Although the rapid changes in the communications environment can seem daunting, Zimmer offers three helpful tips to those who want to stay current.
- Create a personal learning network. The opportunity to interact with and ask questions of experts and influencers has never been stronger. Sites like LinkedIn and Quora make this easy.
- Leverage curation. Zimmer recommends reviewing the site Alltop, which has a big repository of information, including a category devoted to social media.
- Select sources for ongoing learning. A Zimmer favorite is the Smart Brief on Social Media.
To learn more about Linda Zimmer, president and CEO of Marcom:Interactive, and her work, visit her website www.marcominteractive.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get connected with communications news and opportunities, visit the Orange County chapter of IABC.