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Social Media – the New Disruptor

ipadThe Financial Times in a recent survey of FTSE 350 companies have found that nearly a third believe a social media strategy is unimportant and 47% have never discussed such a strategy within their company board.

This disconnect between the developments in the consumer mind-set and the lag in the boardroom is eye opening.

Indeed just 27% of businesses surveyed believed social media played an important or very important role.

Stefan Haefliger, reader in strategic management and innovation at Cass Business School of City University London said:

“There is a lot going on in social media outside companies that they can’t ignore, as consumers and stakeholders argue and discuss aspects of production and consumption.

“It should be the responsibility of the board to know that there can be disruptive and challenging forces coming out of that space that they must engage with, whether it is consumers helping each other with product or services fixes, or customers opposing a company’s strategy. This is an issue for all companies, whether they are consumer-facing or not.”

Given the import of social media to the lives of a huge swathe of the world’s population it is that “disruption” in every generation that the best and most successful companies have tapped into. The consequences of not heeding that insight could prove severe for many as their market move on without them.

Christer Holloman, ‘One of London’s most influential individuals within new media’ said:

“[Social media] is very much bigger than Twitter and Facebook. Companies can use social media to engage with technical audiences and develop new products.”

Indeed the use of social media as an outward publicity tool rather than an inward learning ‘window’ has real resonance in the energy industry with British Gas one of a number of high profile casualties of a twitter ‘car crash’ in the last 12 months.

British Gas, using its twitter account to engage with its customer base on the virtues of it service was met with a barrage of derision, abuse and not so friendly advice as the company announced another round of energy price rises.

Clearly a lot is still to be learnt.

It was once said the quick way to become a millionaire was for a billionaire to invest in Formula 1; now the quick way for a behemoth to become an also ran might just be to ignore social media as a window on your market.

The SME of today could be the FTSE 350 of tomorrow simply by engaging with the disruption and building a better business because of it. Let’s hear it for social media – the great equaliser.

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