As a member of the Social Media Club of Kansas City, I was privileged recently to attend a meeting at which Chad Mitchell (Senior Director, Digital Communications for Walmart) was the presenter. Mitchell shared very openly on the challenges and the opportunities social media presents to the nation’s largest private employer. Here are three crucial truths about social media I took away from Mitchell’s presentation:
1—Consider All The Elements. Mitchell discussed the key elements of a social media program. These elements are the human, the strategic, the technology, and the cultural. Only by engaging all four of these elements can your company build a holistic and effective social-media program that will stand the test of time.
2—Manage To Your Story Arc. A negative story about the company tends to peak fast, and then die down very slowly. A positive story about the company tends to peak more slowly. Therefore, how and when a company manages a story via social media is extremely important. Mitchell emphasized with a negative story, you want to manage the balance and the differing viewpoints so you are as fair as possible. Reacting too quickly can be bad, but waiting too long can be equally bad. Therefore, being sensitive and responsive using all the best information can be a challenge. On the other hand, with a positive story you want to extend its lifecycle by resurrecting it at strategic moments. This allows you to get more mileage out of it, which accrues to increased company goodwill.
3—Use The Hidden Public Opportunities. Ryan offered statistics indicating much of the most negative perceptions about Walmart arise from people who have never worked for Walmart or have never shopped at Walmart. Social media presents a gentle opportunity to inform everyone. Even when you are engaging an extremely upset customer or a highly motivated critic, simply by responding, you thereby speak to the much larger audience of observers, who then become better informed. Do your job right, and over time, the public perception improves.
I am very grateful for Mitchell’s visit to Kansas City. His excellent insights can help us all refine our social-media programs.