Social as the Great Equalizer

By now we’ve all heard about the pervasive presence of social media, and we as a society join increasingly more platforms all the time. In the business space, thought-leaders have started to wonder if social media can be the great equalizer between small and large businesses alike. So, those at Social Media Week gathered some of the industry’s most recognized names in social media and held a panel moderated by Dominic Chu from Bloomberg called Social as the Great Equalizer: Interviews with Companies Large and Small.

Representing the small businesses were Divya Narendra, founder of SumZero, and David Fudge, the Director of Brand Marketing at Bonobos. Hailing from the larger companies were Craig Hepburn, Global Head of Digital and Social at Nokia, Scott Roen, VP of Digital and Partnerships at American Express, and Sara Larsen, VP of Digital Marketing at SAP.

One of the first questions put to the panelists was: How do you know whether your social media efforts are working? David Fudge explained that it starts with figuring out what your goals are. Before you are able to measure success, you have to figure out what metrics you are going to use.

Craig Hepburn chimed in next and said bluntly: “If you don’t understand the value of social, don’t do it. You need to make sure it fits the culture of your business.” Hepburn advocated creating contextual experiences to build stronger relationships with customers, and using social to understand what your customers really want and need.

After this discussion the conversation came around to exploring what makes content engaging, and how you can drive conversation. Scott Roen noted that in B2B relationships it is all about getting the emotional connection. For American Express’ Open Forum they tapped into business’ challenges and they saw a huge influx of participation. American Express gave small businesses a tool to utilize during the tough economy, and established their site as an insightful resource.

Hepburn championed getting behind a social cause as a brand that people already care about, and helping the community amplify it and make it more successful.

Ultimately, the panel agreed that any business or individual could get into social very easily. However, it can also get complicated really easily. Researching to truly understand the psychology and sociology behind social media makes a huge difference.

Last tips for businesses using social media focused on being authentic and timely. You have to be authentic to the brand, but you also have to be authentic to the social channel you’re using. As long as a business stick to their core values and uses social to benefit their customers, social very well could be the next equalizer.

Image courtesy of Flickr, luc legay