McKinsey Quarterly recently ran a piece called “Six Social Media Skills Every Leader Needs.” (You’ll need to register to read the full piece, but it’s free and definitely worth the 30 seconds it takes to complete the registration form.)
Full of fascinating observations and solid advice about bringing your organization into the modern arena of marketing and leadership, the article presents a strong case for the importance of social-media literacy in all levels of a business – not just with your marketing team. Core to the argument is the notion that your content strategy must be well-researched and flexible to see results both within your organization and beyond.
Indeed, understanding and participating in social media is becoming essential for businesses that want to thrive in our quickly-changing, information-hungry world. And the first step is to understand your audience, as well as you audience’s influencers (that is, the people who your customers rely on for their own information). Deiser and Newton write, “It becomes critical to know who an organization’s key—and often informal—influencers are and to leverage their authority to push content through the right channels.”
Often, businesses – especially startups and small businesses – focus only on the frontlines of the “who” question as they develop their content strategy. Who should we be talking to? Who do we want talking to us? But social media is multifaceted in the extreme and you need to know, not just who you want to talk to you, but who THOSE people talk to. Research diligently to see what audiences you can captivate by targeting people whose opinions matter (here, too, it’s important to look at actual influence, rather than basic information like number of followers).
That, of course, requires a continual dedication to monitoring advances in tech and marketing, an element of effective content strategy that is lost to many. So, how do you do that? You hire people who are “plugged in”… and maintain corporate culture that is willing to learn and change.
Deiser and Newton sum up the piece noting that, “Leaders who have steeped themselves in new media will testify that it requires them to navigate between potentially conflicting goals: they must strive to establish an organizational and technical infrastructure that encourages free exchange but also enforce controls that mitigate the risks of irresponsible use. This is a tough organizational-design challenge.”
Here at StyleMatters, we agree. But we also know that, if you develop your content strategy deliberately and acknowledge that, occasionally, you’ll need assistance from experts, you can grow a business that is savvy and social-media literate.