So today I sat in on a twebinar (yes, that's Twitter webinar) sponsored by the monitoring tool Radian6 and Kodak. Kodak was explaining how they've been adopting social media tools into their company and how it's working for them. Put simply, I was BLOWN AWAY.
The way they described what they were doing and how they've been approaching it was just awesome. (Keep in mind that they never actually mentioned how they use Radian6 at all, just how they were taking advantage of the tools out there. That gets props for both Radian6 and Kodak in my book.)
Kodak has their employees, some of whom are just regular folks and others who are geeky camera enthusiasts, blogging, tweeting, and engaging all across the social web. These are passionate people; not everyone in the company does it and it's not necessarily the marketing or PR people. These people are authentic and "real." They show off their personalities and don't only talk about camera and photo stuff. They share what's going on with their lives and often don't mention Kodak at all by name.
One great quote from the Kodak speaker, @tomhoehn, was that "you can't outsource real." I could not agree with this more. This is what companies and individuals have to understand. An agency cannot be you. Only you can be you. Only you know how you talk, your life's story, your hopes, dreams, wishes, and fears. That will never come across through an agency. An agency or consultant can guide you and show you how things work but they can't replace you. You're the expert on your subject and you're the expert on you! Not to mention the amount of time and level of connectedness you need to have which brings me to another point.
These guys understand Sweat Equity. As a student of the Gary Vaynerchuk School of Hustlenomics, I couldn't have been happier to hear this. Tom admitted that it takes a lot of work and effort and time to keep up their engagement and interaction. That means doing things at home and after hours. He knows that if they didn't all work so hard, they'd never be successful. A lot of people miss that when it comes to social networking. They think that just because they have a Facebook profile, that magically they're going to have a community that cares about them. Sorry, but if you build it, they may not come. In new media, you get what you put into it. As @garyvee would say, you have to "bleed through your eyeballs" if you want to be successful. Again, an agency can't be you just from an authenticity/quality/morality standpoint and they definitely can't keep your schedule. They can't be you. This is hard work, but if you want to be successful, you have to do it yourself.
One final point that Tom made regarding ROI which is that he's "having the same conversations about ROI & social media that I had in 1996 about the internet." I'm feeling similarly. Many people just don't see how powerful these things are. I'm sure people said the same exact things about telephones when they first came out. This doesn't mean you shouldn't measure things but make sure you don't forget the bigger picture- you have powerful tools for engagement that can help you learn more about your company/brand, your field, and have your customers/fans learn about you. This is a mutually beneficial exchange, but only if you play the game.
One woman from Kodak, whose name I'm blanking on (sorry!), explained how that by engaging their customers on blogs and forums, they've actually received amazing feedback which they have then TAKEN BACK TO THE PRODUCT TEAMS! Not only did they just take this feedback back to them, but they used it to actually implement improvements to their products. This set my heart a-flutter! Your customers are out there telling you the product they want, all you have to do is listen, engage, and then make those changes.
I was honestly shocked to hear a big corporation explain that they truly get it. I think Kodak is going to be very successful and I think they feel that they already are. I think it's safe to say that I definitely have a social media crush on Kodak right now!