This weekend I took the boys to see Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace. I’ve seen it many times but for the boys, this was the first time they watched it on the big screen. Because I had seen it before, I wasn’t “submerged” in the plot like they were. My mind began to wander to blog posts. I wondered what Yoda and the crew would suggest for those of us trying to implement social in our organizations. They had lots of sage advice for member-based organizations embracing social and a more human side of business:
1. “This turn of events is unfortunate. We must accelerate our plans.” Change for change’s sake is rarely the right move. If you’ve tried and failed, moving more quickly to plan B is not a solution. Take some time to review why the failure occurred and what you can learn from it.
2. “Fear is the path to the darkside. Fear leads to anger.” One of the toughest things you’ll encounter when trying to “do things differently” is people who are fearful of the outcome. They may fear failure or success (as in your idea being so successful, they are phased out) but fear does indeed lead to a lot of vehement opposition. The best way to counteract the angry nay-sayers is through communication. Tell them everything – good or bad – and keep them connected to choices that are being made. Where possible, include them in the choices or asking their advice as you want to do your best to stay away from the “darkside.”
3. “I can assure you they will never get me onto one of those dreadful starships.” The “I’ll Nevers,” a favorite group of mine. They spend most of their time telling you what they’ll “never” do and very little time telling you what they will do – unless you ask them. Appeal to their curmudgeonly ways by asking their advice frequently. Explain you’re trying to figure out the best way to move forward by doing your research of what has (and hasn’t) worked in the past. These folks will ply you with details.
4. “You can’t stop change anymore than you can stop the suns from setting.” As much as I advocate exploring new ways to bring your members value, scaring your board or staff into going social is not the right approach. Remembers what Yoda said about fear in quote #2? Telling people they have to do it because it’s already happening, only gets them half-way on board. You need to help them understand how it benefits your mission and business. Help them see what drew you to the conclusion you support. The answer didn’t come to you overnight so give them some time to adjust as well. Yes, it is inevitable that the sun will set but help them celebrate the dark not make them afraid of it.
5. “Feel, don’t think. Trust your instincts.” In navigating change and the people involved with it, sometimes the best thing you can do is look at who your audience is and go with your gut feeling on how best to approach the situation. The work we are doing in social is largely new and there is no equation behind it that will work 100% of the time for every person. If a social media gaff occurs, taking responsibility while making light of it may work for your group, as in the case of the Red Cross. Some audiences and events require a more serious approach like Chrysler’s response to the irreverent language used by their social media agency’s employee. A note of caution: remember we are all working at this Jedi Master thing and “feeling” should be tempered with some form of thinking.
No matter what your internal struggles are as you navigate these seemingly uncharted social waters, remember that behind every device is a human and we should treat him/her with the same respect we would use in a face-to-face meeting. Social is not a fad and customization of experience is an expectation for consumers and members, not a luxury. In the words of the brilliant Yoda, “be mindful of the future” but as Qui-Gon Jinn counters, “But not at the expense of the moment.”Photo credit: Ferhat Ural