In a Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Newsletter, the studies of Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and users of social networks are discussed. The article opens with a quote from the Professor, "Online social networks are most useful when they address real failures in the operation of offline networks". Keeping up with friends, establishing new relationships, and sharing photos are primary uses of these social networks. No real surprises there.
Which can lead to the question that confounds many a corporate marketing leader. How do you play in this new world of social networks? According to Professor Piskorski, " To be successful, you need to shift your thinking from social media to social strategy". Simply looking at the social networks as another marketing channel, to generate leads and click through's for your website, is inconsistent with the spirit and use of these networks. He suggests that products and services need to be changed to incorporate social networking components, i.e. make them "more social".
Certainly an interesting perspective and worth exploring. In the financial services arena, I find it a bit challenging to see a way to make our services more social. We see the current value in sharing information about the company and employees on our Facebook page (with lots of pictures, of course). We use Twitter to have conversations with others that are more immediate, whether it be promoting an event, participating in community activities, or addressing a customer service issue. I think we are evolving into a social strategy through experience.
So what about you? How do you see social media, as just another sales channel or as an overall part of a social strategy?