George Gallate

Jun 122012
 

people at BerkeleyConsider the facts: Your students, your staff, your alumni, your clients, your competitors, your donors, your advocates and your detractors are all socially engaged. They all have voices.

Some have created a “personal brand.” Others are speaking with association to a company’s or school’s brand. This rise of the unofficial spokesperson has significant potential repercussions.

These voices, in the physical world, are mostly weak. In the social world, they can be powerful and influential. In the social world, there is noise and signal. Noise is retweeted, thoughtless, unconnected 140-character sets. It’s flaky Facebook fans. Signal cuts through. Is on message. Is connected. Signal drives to action.

Effective social marketers have intentionally high signal-to-noise ratios. Effective social marketers listen extremely well. They understand the value of dialogue. They welcome conversation.

This rise of the constituent voice, of many voices, is changing marketing.

With potentially more than half of your employees and faculty online and socially active, there is a need for empowerment guidelines. Most will not have had the media training of traditional company spokespeople. With a desire for your subject matter experts to be engaged, there is a need for either incentives or new job profiles to encourage the behavior sought. With the massive volume of messages to listen to and interpret, there is a need for focus, for direction and connection. This is the new role of network management.

Add to this complexity that it’s likely that close to 100% of your student body is online and social active.

As a result, education is changing. So is customer service.  It’s faster and it’s public. Forget Twelpforce, though this in itself is a powerful outworking of the positive. Think disgruntled customers who are not getting the attention they need or deserve. Think of the opportunity for your competitor or detractor to amplify this dissatisfaction. Or, now thinking Twelpforce, consider the competitor who listens to your customers and embraces them.  Now think about it from the perspective of your student body.

Social is the opportunity to listen. As children, we all heard that we were created with two ears and one mouth, and that meant we should focus on listening first and doing that twice as much. This truism holds for the Age of Many Voices.

Besides being polite, it will help ensure you are on message. Listening is a research opportunity. Done properly, it is an incredible research tool as well as a lead-capturing and -farming opportunity. And, critically, all of this is in real time.

Effective social marketers create intentional systems.

We started with “consider the facts.” Perhaps consider this: Do you know how many of your students are socially engaged?  What about your alumni and faculty? Do you know how many of your prospective students are online? Do you know what your competitors are saying, what your advocates and detractors are saying? Are you socially engaged?

In the Age of Many Voices, are you ready?

George Gallate
Global Chairman, Euro RSCG 4D