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Social Media Strategy Book

SANDRO GRAF  &  TERESA VALERIE MANDL 11 ased opinion of the day-to-day operations of the company. Management fears that this may result in a highly subjective (one-sided) company profile affecting public opinion and perhaps even influencing representatives of employers’ associations. So far, however, the company’s efforts to address these risks have neither been effective nor coordinated. Admittedly, David has profited from a very open and dynamic cor- porate culture that encourages a trial-and-error approach towards embrac- ing new developments. On the other hand, pressure from senior manage- ment has increased to present financial figures justifying the investments made or proposed. At the beginning, external social media consultants promised great things and internal stakeholders placed high hopes on the use of social media tools for their business. Indeed, initially the company made remarkable progress in establishing direct access to its customers for the first time and took advantage of opportunities to learn about their likes, dislikes and desires. Customer interaction became more targeted and personal, leading to very valuable feedback. At the same time, in many ways the changes proved to be too radical for the company. While David’s fellow board members appreciate the great potential of social media, they are feeling uneasy about the risks and the uncertain outcome of social me- dia measures with regard to the company’s profitability. David will need to propose to the executive board a well-managed, top-down strategic approach embracing not only the company’s goals and overall strategic direction, but also to manage reputational risks and trig- ger changes in organisational culture. The approach will need to demon- strate how social media could contribute to cost effectiveness and efficien- cy of processes such as recruitment and customer service. In addition, the company will have to implement reliable feedback mechanisms to monitor success and profitability over the coming months. David’s case is an example of the issues and sensitivities of senior execu- tive clients of Lardi & Partner as well as the project partners of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) face regularly. Those days when companies paid for their social media activities out of their marketing budgets and hoped for the best are long gone. The increasing popularity and significance of social media in the consumer lifecycle that developed over the past decade has created real challenges for companies and their long-term strategies. Social and collaborative technologies are no longer just marketing tools; they promise a broad range of benefits for compa- nies in terms of internal and external collaboration, communication and interaction |MERCHANT, 2010|. In the medium and long term, these benefits must be transformed into sustainable, measurable profits. To this end, management today must deal with the following key questions: