A study done by Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group shows that companies who engage in social media have done better financially, even in a recession.

Li is quick to point out that the companies’ financial success is not necessarily caused by their social media engagement, but there is a strong correlation.

As luck would have it, Starbucks, number one on the list, is the exception to the rule, with lowered sales in the last year. However a social media presence is a must for a company thats all about the third place between work and home, an idea which is inherently social. 

The top companies, Starbucks, eBay, Dell and Google, go beyond simply broadcasting their message through social media, towards a meaningful conversation with their customers. 

Starbucks has My Starbucks Idea, Dell has Ideastorm, but these companies engagement with their customers goes well beyond these platforms. Its cliché, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

What does it suggest? Here are three things that stand out:

  • The winners are using social media across the organisation, not just as part of marketing and HR
  • Their social media use is an outgrowth of a customer-centric culture, not an add-on, and
  • Social media for them is as much about listening to their customers, as about sending messages.

iJump’s focus on culture

Sometimes potential clients just don’t get Marie. They can understand me, with my marketing and technology background, but Marie is neither a techie, nor a marketer. She’s a customer service specialist, and a trainer who helps move people from apathy or fear, to engagement.

Those skills are crucial to make social media more than just a passing fad for companies.

Yes, the technology is important (and ever-changing). What’s more important are the people who drive it.

Social media is only ever a window on your culture. If you have an unhealthy culture, it will come through, whether communications departments forbid it or not. If you have a healthy, vibrant culture, that will come through, too.

Our job isn’t just showing you the window, it’s enabling change in the culture inside, which in turn leads to genuine, human engagement between you and your customers. 

In some ways, this helps us – and you – stay focused in a world where the technology is changing at a rapid rate. The winners arent necessarily the ones who know the very latest technology – thats a zero-sum game designed to wear people out – but instead those who truly master the age-old art of real, human communication, and learn how to adapt that to new forms of communication as they arise.

 What’s your organisation like? Ready for the window, or stitching up the curtains?