On Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Social Collective conference in London, a social media event that was devised to bring together thoughts and insights into how the social web works and what the future holds. More than the bog standard ‘this is what social media is and this is why you should use it’, Social Collective was focused on the big questions that we’re all asking and at the implications that the social web has across business; from marketing and PR to customer service and human resources; from the shop floor to the boardroom. I’d encourage you to check out the Social Collective site for updates from all of the sessions, but I thought it’d be useful to distil a few of the key discussion points and learnings here to provide food for thought and insight.
First to catch my attention was Katy Howell’s assertion that we have to start talking the language of business, not the language of social media people. In order for business to buy into social media and the power it has, they need to understand it, and talking to them in terms of retweets and referral traffic doesn’t cut it. What the boardroom wants is boardroom metrics. The question of ROI inevitably comes back to money in one sense or another; either making it or saving it. But the social web has brought about a fundamental shift in the way purchasing decisions take place, and this is where the power of social media can be seen most. The ‘consideration phase’ is now longer as people research and investigate their options. And they ask their networks for their experiences and opinions. What social media can do is to address people’s ‘consideration questions’ – emotional concerns, credibility issues, service issues and product questions. That is the REAL power of social media; influencing and inspiring people in the consideration phase through impacting on SEO.
Paul Harrison (my twin incidentally, according to Social Collective organiser Beth Carroll) talked about trust and about how not only do people value the opinions of their networks, but how we actually carry our networks around with us 24/7 on our smartphones. It’s an interesting way of looking at the mobile web and really brings home the importance of social media within a mobile context. Paul also discussed how social really is a cultural thing; it’s an approach and an ethos that must come from the boardroom and filter through an entire organisation. Could the ‘social company’ be just around the corner?
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