A great deal is actually being said about the effect of social media on brands – from Tropicana, DELL, Zappos, JetBlue, and a growing list of other companies. However the actual fundamental problem with all of this is that it focuses on the customer at the expense of the brand.
Before opening yourself up to the conversation, before engaging outside, start with who you really are, what you as an organization really believe in, and what gets you out of bed in the morning.
Forget about mission and vision statements. Forget ‘shareholder value’ — No one ever got out of bed for increased shareholder value (but if you have something powerful to drive you, you have a better chance of creating plenty of it).
Specifically recognize what you believe in and really can deliver, articulate this ethos simply so that everyone in your business can fully grasp the idea, position it firmly at the heart of your brand, and drive it through everything that you do.
With a crystal clear sense of internal purpose and direction you stand a significantly better chance of using social media and online conversation as a source of competitive advantage rather than disadvantage.
This will be hard. It is fundamentally counter-intuitive for any typically educated professional to think in this fashion, to focus on the organization before the customer, and yet the times have changed and this is what will be critical to your businesses existence.