Often, social media is referred to as “the conversation.” But on tomorrow’s Buzz Bin post, I argue that in actuality for companies conversation is not the end result. Instead it’s just a process to create engagement with stakeholders. Engagement creates strong relationships, in turn yielding measurable results for companies in social worlds (see K.D. Paine for more on this).
In my opinion there are four ways to create engagement with stakeholders using social media tools.
1) Co-creation: The customization of socially enabled product platforms by customers which creates engagement. Customers are excited because they get to build a unique and better business product that suits their needs. Examples: Google front page, Mini Coopers (image is Bobasonic’s custom Cooper), Build a Bear, etc. This can extend to the brick and mortar world, too. Think Harley Davidsons and the vast amount of customization these bikes enjoy. The key is to create a platform that customers and other stakeholders can play with…
2) Collaboration: Think Wikis (and other collaborative tools like text, chat and emai). These are designed to help people involved in a common task achieve their goals.Wikipedia is the classic example, but other forms include implementations at Adobe Systems, Intel, Microsoft and the FBI. WIkis are really hot for internal corporate environments, and make for a great tools to engage internal stakeholders in larger discussions about business.
3) Conversation: The most talked about form of engagement (pun intended), this embodies blogging and true social networking. Conversations from a corporate standpoint in these realms include corporate blogging, applications for social networks, community forums, even social advertising. Participation in the conversation works better in these environments rather than the tired old one-way approach to communications. Many think the term conversation has become a cliche, or overused, but smart people know that conversation is simply a two-way dialogue.
4) Crowdsourcing: This is a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. Social technologies are great for catalyzing these types of environments, particularly for product development. Nokia’s Mosh, Dell’s Idea Storm, and MyStarbucks are the most visible corporate examples I have seen. Here’s another example featuring Livebooks. Also, Rohit had an interesting version of crowdsourcing interviews to launch his book.