Social media and ‘establishment’ firms: putting the cart before the horse?

Had a conversation there over lunch with a marcomms person working in financial services: he said he was working on introducing social media to his company as a comms tool.  The conversation turned to the unthinking adoption of social media, where it seems that many companies don’t ask themselves if they’ve anything to say online. They may not have a lot to say because their product is so pervasive and trivial (I don’t mean this pejoratively, but in terms of level of engagement elicited in the consumer), or, as in bancassurance or healthcare, they may feel that they’re not at liberty to say anything for fear of litigation.

Established companies in pharma, healthcare and bancassurance often don’t have a lot going for them when it comes to their social media presence (please fill in the exception that comes to your mind now), but an additional hindrance for impactful social media is how we work now. We are told by Clay Shirky and Scott Beslky  and James Gleick that the nature of work has altered due to the ‘wired revolution’ and we’re never going back: that’s true for some companies, desirable for others, and just not at all true for pharma, healthcare, or bancassurance (in the cases I’ve read about or seen at first hand). All too often, the paperless office is a misnomer: much worise is the massive underutilisation of collaborative working tools such as good project mgmt software, or things like Dropbox. If your company’s not making use of  good software for collaborative working, how the hell are you going to be able to master Twitter and Facebook to connect to your customers? Do you think that leaving your social media strategy to the funky young guy and girl at the hot desk will cut it? Less trend chasing and more uptake of contemporary ways of working are required, by all staff, across divisions and management layers.

Posted by Ken.

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