“Influence is like water. It is always flowing somewhere.” – Gary Hamel
There is amazing truth to Gary Hamel’s observation when associated to the hypercompetitive and social business environment that we live and work in today.
Over the past two years we have seen new ‘sources of water’ or ‘pools of influence’ form in and around our companies and our respective industries at an extremely rapid pace (fueled by the affects of social media tsunami).
As a result, many marketing and communication leaders (and their agencies) have struggled to make the right adjustments required to help their companies navigate the new realities of managing influence and doing business in a social environment.
The truth is, we live in exciting times.
Old communication and marketing platforms and the 1:1 relationship models that we have all come to appreciate have been disrupted - to the point that mainstream media, industry analysts, NGOs, etc. are no longer the primary sources of information available for our customers and the market at large to draw upon to inform and shape their opinions and decisions.
Social media and online social networks provide us with instant access to a wealth of rich information for insight, education, advice and shared experience to support our decisions - be it to purchase, vote, endorse, etc.
The key word here is experience.
Experience is the most important and credible factor of influence that affects any individual or community to take action.
As consumers, we rely on our own experience (with a company or issue) as well as the shared experience of others to support our decisions and/or shape our opinions.
Good or bad, experience is authentic, extremely credible, trustworthy…and very hard to buy.
A bad experience shared on the Internet can travel at a velocity that can reach millions of people over night.
As people begin to identify with or share their own similar ‘bad’ experiences - the impact on a company’s reputation and sales can be dramatic. This alone should be enough to cause concern for any business leader.
Perhaps more important though, is that every bad experience exposes a root issue (e.g. product or service quality, sales experience issues, etc.) that if ignored or not addressed in a timely manner can further expose a company to massive short and long-term business challenges.
In today’s social environment, the spark that often ignites the flame comes via a tweet, a blog post or a status update to a social media peer group.
In this regard, experience is perhaps the most disruptive factor of influence to companies in a social business environment.
So how do you manage or generate positive experience?