Social media – it’s here and it ain’t going anywhere

We're delighted to feature the first in a series of posts from Alex Ranson.  Alex (that's the female Alex by the way) is one of the few people in the world with the combination of an MBA, a season ticket at Villa Park, working experience in Procurement and as a Social Media strategist!  Thanks Alex....the Editor

The man seated next to me, whose eyes were already wandering towards the buffet table even though the social media training session had only been in progress for six minutes, could contain himself no longer:

“No disrespect, but I work in PROCUREMENT!  I don’t have time for all this social media marketing nonsense,” he snapped.  “I couldn’t care less about the minutiae of teenagers’ tedious lives,  I’m quite sure they don’t want to hear about mine, and I certainly don’t want my team wasting company time on gimmicky fads – we’re hard pressed enough as it is.  Now can we please have a drink?”

“Rupert” (let’s call him), the man in question, was an intelligent, very successful head of procurement in his forties who’d had a long, tiring day and needed a beer.   I - a social media strategist – was trying to show him and his colleagues how social media can be used to help tackle real business challenges.   It wasn’t an ideal scenario.

“Rupert, I think I love you.” I replied. “You couldn’t have captured more perfectly in one sentence every myth going about social media if you’d tried.  Let me get you a cold beer, then let’s tackle these myths one by one.”

1)      Social media is all about connecting people who care about the same things that you do.  Yes, you work in procurement. But you also work for a company or organisation trying to achieve complex goals in an increasingly interconnected world, where information exchanges are now taking place through social media rather than newspapers, TV or even email.  The question should be: how can you afford to ignore or isolate your team from this critical information in a highly competitive marketplace?

2)      Social media isn’t a fad, and won’t disappear.  It is only going to become more prevalent.  Everyone your organisation recruits who is born after 1985 (known as “Millenials”), and all of your Millenial customers or service users, will have grown up with a socially-connected, digitally-oriented mind set and capability: it is as deeply ingrained as their first language.

3)      Social media is not about marketing.   Big consumer brands with big marketing budgets were among the early adopters of social media tools, networks and spaces, and still tend to grab all the headlines. But social media has a huge amount to offer disciplines like procurement in terms of more effective, more cost- and time- efficient collaboration, communication, creativity, customer service, market and supplier research.

4)      Social media ≠ “wasting time on Facebook”.   Yes, Facebook has half a billion users.  But there are many other more useful and appropriate networks and social tools that you’d probably choose ahead of Facebook to help you serve your internal customers in remote locations better, for example, or to pre-qualify potential suppliers.

PS: I’m happy to report that with a beer in his hand, and reassurance that no one was asking him to post photos of his last stag ski trip to St Anton on the company intranet, Rupert  was a lot more receptive to hearing about how social media could help make his life easier.

This is the first blog in a series about how procurement professionals can use social media for business results.  If you’ve got any questions at all about social media: myths you’d like busting, tools you’d like explaining, concerns that you have – please email and we’ll tackle them in future posts.

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Voices (4)

  1. Alex:

    thanks! I’ve also noticed a lot of smaller businesses recently jumping on the bandwagon you mention. Which is a great shame, because the nice thing about coming new to social media today is that there are lots of useful lessons to be learnt from all the very expensive mistakes made by the early adopters – the big consumer brands – over the last three years.

  2. Don Morgan:

    Nice post. I like the conversational style and the topic. I’m just sitting here trying to put together a presentation to a client who thinks the opposite from Rupert – that Facebook is some kind of magic bullet for his retail business. All he has to do is “build it and they will come”. He sees FB as a cheap way to advertise, and wants me to build Likes without a real reason for anyone (outside of his circle of friends) to actually want to visit his page. His understanding of social media points out a few more myths you can tackle in future posts.

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