Strategic implications of social media

May 24, 2009

“There’s been an expression for a long time, that you do well by doing good. And I don’t think it’s been true in the past. Lots of companies did well by being really bad. By being monopolies, by having terrible labour policies or having so lousy products that they put a lot of money into advertising and sales. And companies are having to clean up. Not because of regulation — they’re having to clean up because of market forces and the power of transparency.”

Don Tapscott, in the documentary Us Now

I couldn’t agree more with Don Tapscott. With the rise of Web 2.0 and social media, a new set of rules has emerged for doing business.

  • In the past, companies chose their employees. Now employees choose companies.
  • In the past, knowledge was best kept to one self. Now we know to share it.
  • In the past, companies owned their brand. Now fans own it.
  • In the past, angry customers had phones. Now they have Twitter.
  • In the past, companies did the talking. Now we all do.
  • In the past, companies lead the way. Now we all can.

These changes are all rooted in the open, collaborative and participatory web. Rooted in social media.

Companies shouldn’t spend all their social media efforts on setting up a YouTube account or a Facebook page. Those are operational actions, tactical at their best. And they are actions — something you do.

Companies should spend a lot more of their social media efforts on understanding the new set of rules. That is a strategic matter, even cultural. Being transparent and being good is something you are.

Be good. Do well.


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