Social Media’s Sway

Social Media’s Sway

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube it sounds like nothing at face value. You may ask: What does it all mean really? Well, if you take a look it could mean dollars and cents. I came across this article called “12 Key Findings On Social Media’s Impact on Business and Decision Making By CEO’s and Managers” and if social media hasn’t resonated for you yet, it ought to. The survey completed by 356 professionals including primarily CEO’s and directors.

The survey included questions designed to help the researchers better understand respondents’ perceptions and experiences with social media in support of their decision-making as CEO’s, Directors and Managers.

A lot of executives, myself included, have been talking about social media. I believe that there are real business benefits to be had and my responsibility is to share those ideas with you. The article asserts that “building a network or using social media to deepen customer intimacy has become the mantra of today. However, what is often overlooked is the impact of social media to change behaviors, and the potential to use social media to impact a professional’s decision-making processes.

The CEO, Directors and Managers are asking:

  • Is social media typically regarded as a trustworthy source of information for professionals?
  • Does social media offer effective tools to access information, advice, and engage in professional collaboration?
  • How do they compare to traditional off-line networking?
  • What are the tools and sources of social media that professionals rely on to make decisions?
  • Will social media change the business and practice of enterprise-level operations?”

I get these questions. I understand that when something is new there are going to be questions. Heck, you can electronically sign almost anything in the real world, yet some lenders still doubt the legality of e-signatures and FHA still has not published e-closing guidelines. My point is that trends usually don’t catch on in an instant. However, I would submit to you that social media will buck that trend. Social media has come on the stage recently and it is literally exploding. Everyone is using these tools, so why don’t the same set of rules apply to mortgage lenders and vendors?

Actually, our industry is not exempt. This is no longer a nice-to-do. They key is to use these tools to get a business advantage. What do I mean? The article I referenced earlier puts it this way:

“The convergence of the Internet, Web 2.0, and mobile technologies has created a disruptive shift in business. The era of Business-to-Person (B2P) communications driven by all things social (social media, social networks, and social influence) has emerged as a new model for engagement.

Social Media Peer Groups (SMPG) have evolved to take important and influential shape in a new business and economic environment. This shift has forever changed many long-standing traditional marketing practices; communications (such as public relations); and selling beliefs that have traditionally guided how companies interact, support, and collaborate with their customers… We now work in an environment where companies have diminished control over the reputation of their brands, products, and services as the wisdom of crowds increasingly dictate the rules of reputation management and selling. Through the use of social media, customers and prospects now have an almost instantaneous platform for discussion of their ideas, experiences, and knowledge. Increasingly, the use of social media is playing an important role in the professional lives of decision-makers as they utilize the tools and mediums before them to engage their decision-making processes. The social nature of decision-making has increased with impressive strength, connecting generations of professionals to each other-changing the dynamics of customer relationship management, marketing, and communications–forever.”

The fact of the matter is, people “live” on these social media networks. They’re there. That’s where they like to be. So, why aren’t you there? If you aren’t, you really ought to be.

Here’s what this all should mean to the CEO, according to this research that I came across: “Specifically, this research focuses on professionals’ use of social media—and it all comes back to the strength of the relationship. Human relationships and peer-to-peer decision-making are inherently interrelated. Traditionally, we make decisions about who we trust in work settings based on a number of factors—one often being proximity. With social media, proximity is often superseded in the trust factor by relativity or like-mindedness. Is this person

  • Knowledgeable?
  • Credible?
  • Believable?
  • Do we share the same views and networks—online or offline?

Because belonging to a peer network or online community requires us to perform publically, to share our background by way of a profile, to display our professional connections and networks, trustworthiness is, in many cases, more tangibly determined and evidenced by your content and networks on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or your blog.”

As these factors arise, they present opportunity. Yes, you have to prove yourself, but in the end all you really have to do is be yourself. The hard sell doesn’t work. You have to make “friends” and be genuine. Being you is the way to succeed using social media.

I know you’re dying to hear what the article finally concluded are the 12 key findings, as its title suggests. The 12 key findings on social media’s impact on business and decision-making by CEO’s and Managers are:

  • Professionals tend to belong to multiple social networks for business purposes
  • The “Big Three” social networks, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, have emerged as professional networks
  • Mobile is emerging as a frequent professional networking access point
  • Traditional decision-making processes are being disrupted by social media © 2010 ? Society for New Communications Research
  • Professional networks are an increasingly essential decision-support tool << High levels of trust exist in information obtained from online networks
  • Changes are taking place in organizations’ internal and external use of social media
  • There is a recognized need for peer input in decisionmaking.
  • Connecting and collaborating are key drivers for professionals’ use of social media.
  • Final decision makers are more likely to indicate that they conduct research via a search engine (82 percent vs. 70 percent of Decision Supporters)
  • Those professionals with more networks are more likely to gather opinions through their online network, read blogs and query the Twitter channel as early steps in the decision process
  • Younger respondents are more likely to read a company blog and to query the Twitter channel vs. older demographics

Do you want to be a laggard? Do you want to lose market share? My guess is that you would answer no to both of those questions. So, here’s my question to you: Why not use social media to advance your business objectives?

Published In Tomorrow’s Mortgage Executive, Business Strategies June 2011