Only democratic organisations will get the most from social media

Great to see a client that I worked with at NixonMcInnes featured in The Guardian talking about how Brighton & Hove Council is using social media to provide a better service to residents.

The quote from John Shewell, Head of Comms for B&H that I found really spot on was:

We employ over 7000 staff here; if we just take a tenth of that we’ve got a pretty good communications workforce there that are participating in conversations with the public. But the fundamental issue is organisations being comfortable with letting go of control, trusting their staff and encouraging their staff to become ambassadors for the organisation.

This is the big issue with the successful use of social media in large organisations. It’s not about comms or marketing. It’s not even really about social media. It’s about the core DNA of the organisation, whether it will trust, empower and set their people free in order to provide the best possible service to customers. These are fundamental characteristics of democratic organisations and it’s these organisations who will ultimately succeed in social media.

This doesn’t just apply in the public sector of course. Over the years I’ve spoken to several online retailers about what a ‘social media strategy’ should look like for their industry. My reply was always to start by  looking at what Zappos – the posterchild for online customer service – are doing. But Zappos are only able to do what they do online because they have the deeper DNA that has created a happy, passionate and empowered work-force. No other company can copy what they’re doing unless they also adopt a similar culture.

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