Whether you are a CEO of a huge corporation, or the CEO of the perpetual start-up that is you, you are looking for talent and hiring all the time. But you might not be hiring people – you may be hiring a wide range of products and services to accomplish certain tasks. After all, when a company hires us, our employer is less interested in us (hard to believe, I know) and is more interested in what we’re there to accomplish.
Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen has written about innovation via a lens of what he calls “Jobs To Be Done”. The simple idea is that we are constantly “hiring” tools, people, and services for jobs; and a path to successfully growing any company is in knowing what job must be accomplished, and what tools should be hired to be successful.
Similarly, our customers are deciding all the time if they should hire our products and services to solve their problems. For an interesting and illustrative look at how this applies to milkshakes (yes, milkshakes), add this to your virtual reading pile.
Speaking of milkshakes, the next time you’re enjoying one, consider this: What is the operative word in the term “Social Media”?
Many of us are consumed by the “media” part of the term. Some people dabble in social networks the way a linguist dabbles in languages – it is their true medium. But in fact I think the word that better describes the age in which we live is social.
I recently listened to an interview with Nilofer Merchant concerning her book 11 Rules for Creating Value in the #Social Era, and was struck by a comment she made about how people today are almost physically unable to utter the word “social” without also saying “media”. But if the job is to grow a business in a newly social world – where everything from product design to post-sale support can be accomplished through communities of people who aren’t employees – then social media is an amazing tool. But it is only a tool. The question is: what are the jobs to be done?
I’m going to isolate on just two simple jobs: building a voice and building a list.
Building a voice
Many of us have attended industry conferences where we select a session to attend because the topic looks interesting and the person who is presenting should have some unique insight. But as we watch the first few powerpoint slides advance, we get that sinking feeling that we’ve been duped into sitting through a vendor’s commercial, not an innovator’s insight. At this moment, the audience tunes out the presenter by fiddling with their phones and looking for opportunities to surreptitiously head for the exit.
This same dynamic plays itself out every day in corporate tweets and blog posts. We are often told that if we want people to read our content, we must provide something of value. The question for companies is, how do you do that?
Share Stories. People love stories and are seeking insights. Stories of how other customers are using your product in their lives are great – they practically demonstrate the difference your company is making for real people. Think about the scene in Dances with Wolves, when Kevin Costner and his new Lakota Indian friends are recounting their successful hunt around a campfire. Social media is cool, but the world hasn’t changed that much since the 1860s. Pretend you’re around a campfire. Share your story.
Describe how your industry is changing. And naturally, talk about how you are leading that change and making sure your customers are going to benefit.
Leverage other voices. Let’s face it. Our hearts don’t exactly race with excitement when we see a company telling us to follow their Twitter feed or “like” them on Facebook. Since it’s a social world, and many of the best insights about our companies can originate outside our castle walls, look for opportunities to amplify insights from your customers and industry pundits in a way that supports your own corporate identity.
Building a list
Although this can apply to personal as well as corporate blogs, in this post blogger Michael Hyatt discusses how he transformed from focusing on growing the number of visitors to his blog to focusing on growing the number of people who were subscribers. Think of it this way: some people approach their social life with a “mile wide and an inch deep” approach, and others take the “an inch wide and a mile deep” approach. Generally, when it comes to business (and perhaps also actual human relationships), the second is the more profitable and satisfying approach.
There are a number of insightful posts elsewhere on Steamfeed about how to put tools to work for your brand, and drive meaningful customer engagement in the process. I suggest you take a look at them.
New Year Resolution: Put social media to work for you, rather than you working for it.