HOW AFRICA DOES SOCIAL MEDIA IN CORPORATE COMMUNICATION


Social Media: Changing Business
Image by Intersection Consulting via Flickr

Presence on the world wide web gives an organisation a way to succinctly define themselves and have digital information about who they are and what they do quickly accessible, allowing you,your business, your products and services to get found by internet users.

The challenge of what to say is often faced by businesses who have not clearly defined who they are and what they do. A communications strategy must be defined in tandem with the organisation’s business and marketing plans. This is an integral exercise that business decision makers must invest in with their communications resources before implementing any communication via traditional or new media.

It has been suggested that a sound business concept is one that can be defined in 140 characters.

The first base,otherwise known as Web 1.0, usually a brochure webpage and an webmail email address for internal and external communication. This is where most organisations in Kenya are currently placed,where social media is primarily viewed as an edgy marketing tool, a new means of communicating to current and potential customers.

A cut and paste from the organisation’s brochures and introductory letter structures may do as a start, but depending on the nature of your core business, an investment into a deeper web communications model may be necessary.

Note that, not all businesses require a steep investment into web communications. Do not go into web communications merely because it is the in thing. Despite the following snazzy figures;

As of 18th May 2011, there were:
•667,020,540 Facebook accounts globally
•(KE: 1,093,400 NG: 3,149,320 RSA: 3,816,780 EGY: 7,258,860)
•Over 200 million Twitter accounts (70,000 active in Kenya)
•Over 50 million You Tube accounts (March 2010)
•Over 100 million LinkedIn users (March 2011)

delving into web communications exposes your business to both negative and positive publicity.

The nature of your business may therefore leave you with more complaints and negative publicity than positive feedback. There exists too, the threat of negative campaigns from competitors.

These and other factors must be considered by stakeholders before your business is placed under public scrutiny in matters that may have otherwise been handled quietly, risking the creation of a cost centre where there was none.

Second base is web 2.0.This is where an organisation goes beyond the posting of information and establishes a conversation with her clients. The organisation builds an online community around herself and the web is used interactively. It offers new avenues of having business to business interactions and customer communications. Here, a website is no longer a brochure website but also meshes with interactive suite of web and communication tools.

At this level, the challenge is usually, content. Again, as said earlier, not all businesses are by nature geared to act interactively.

However,here are a few FREE ways of implementing interactive public and private communications both for internal management of the organisation and client communication:

    • Modern email tools like Gmail, Yahoo Business and Outlook live, which go beyond mere electronic mail and incorporate corporate document management, chat, among other features.
    • Linked-In as tool of outlining industry relevance,business to business networking and resource base
    • Newsletters for client communication, and highlighting industry relevance and expertise
    • Skype for international communication and transfer of information
    • Yammer and Salesforce Chatter for CRM and internal corporate information management
    • Twitter Handle for corporate marketing, press releases and client interactions
    • Facebook Page for corporate marketing, press releases and client interactions.
    • Participation in Industry-relevant Mailing lists and websites by technical, management and other departments.

An organisation which has implemented corporate communications effectively is Capital FM: Facebook page Over 111,000 likes
Capital FM Twitter Handle
Over 7,300 followers

If your organization lacks the expertise internally, it is necessary to include a consultant or consulting company to implement a change in your corporate communications strategy.

It is not enough to hire a resource to post across social and communication portals. For a sophisticated deployment in corporate communications, organisations like Gina Din Communications, ScanGroup, Ogilvy and Dotsavvy, among others deploy end to end office and web communications, which includes SMS, corporate phone solutions, CRM and web tools, all the while implementing a shift in the organisation communication practices.

Remember, it is never plug and play, but involves a shift in long term organisation communication policy.

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