By YUSMAR YAHAYA
In 2014, when AccorHotels, a leading operator with a chain of hotels in 92 countries, was facing pressure from customers as well as shareholders to increase its customer service satisfaction, the company turned to social media to execute an online research and monitoring exercise by aggregating more than 5,000 publicly available monthly customer opinions that were posted at travel websites that track the online reputation of 12,000 hotels worldwide.
Based on the exercise, AccorHotels managed to narrow down the areas for improvement and within a short period of time, the Novotel brand within the AccorHotels group saw a 55% growth in positive feedback in online posts and a significant decrease in the number of negative comments.
The content delivery platform is by far the most potent tool for leaders to articulate leadership values and execute them as well as the source for information analytics.
In recent years, it has developed into what we now call the social media platform where content is disseminated automatically to spread and to be replicated like viruses, hence the often-used term “viral” in social media.
Since social media software exists ubiquitously through mobile smartphones, the social media platform empowers everyone to express his or her opinions and garner worldwide attention within a very short period of time.
Prior to social media, it would have been nearly impossible for this to be done, especially by ordinary individuals without any access to print media or audio-video broadcast channels.
In business circles, while the social media platform is heavily used by consumer groups to express their points of view, it also empowers business entities to promote their products, maintain product branding and enhance client engagement in order to stay ahead of the competition.
More importantly, it is an effective and crucial public relations tool during crisis management for any organisation.
There are many examples of how social media platforms are used by leaders of nations, industries and academia as a proactive tool to disseminate knowledge and information, as well as to address public concerns over organisational policies, product promotions or to support for communal causes.
However, it is often unclear to many leaders how to use these platforms effectively and what steps need to be taken to ensure proper functionality that caters to their business purposes.
For leaders to be effective in managing the flow of content on social media platforms that are related to their organisations, there has to be a clearly defined process. It could be from a simple hourly or daily habit of checking the aggregated news to implementing a dedicated team of personnel acting as the company’s online watchguards.
Information flows extremely fast in the social media realm and within hours or even minutes, news about the company’s product malfunction or calamity could spread across the world even before the unsuspecting chief executive officer could finish having a meal.
Therefore, it is crucial that the management team in an organisation is kept abreast of their presence on social media.
In the example of AirAsia, the top management exercises the use of social media to keep client communication open, thereby further gaining the trust of the public and investors of its commitment to transparency.
This method proved to be effective in several events involving AirAsia’s operations, including the recent crisis in managing the airplane crash in Indonesian waters.
It also goes without saying that social media platforms could be effectively used as the promotional engine for an organisation, whether for business product promotions or asserting the organisation’s public image. When executed well, its exponential propagation rate would mirror the leadership capability of the executives.
Identify the right tool
Many leaders of an organisation do not realise that they are already surrounded by many existing tools – freely available – to ensure that their messages get through effectively.
Some tools are meant to push the deliverables and others to trigger notifications based on keywords.
Tools such as hashtags and Google Alerts are very efficient for information dissemination and instant online notifications.
By effectively using group communication software (apps) to aggregate online news into a collection of information sorted according to their preferences, leaders can create a snapshot of the organisation’s social media presence and its most recent status before proceeding with further actions publicly.
This would assist leaders to make well-informed decisions and in turn deliver them by leveraging on the social media platforms for further dissemination of crucial information within a short time.
The management of social media is no longer an afterthought in an organisation’s structure and requires a dedicated team that focuses on its deliverables and impact.
The public often regards leaders that are capable of responding immediately on issues pertaining to their organisation as trustworthy and relevant.
As such, leaders require a good team in the organisation that ensures accurate information is provided within a short turn-around time.
Embracing the use of social media platforms in the organisational structure will enhance the effective flow of communication and information from within the organisation. All employees will stay connected with each other and the management at all times.
Any new updates, information or crisis, will be communicated quickly and effectively.
Solutions for problems can be found quickly too with full engagement from all levels within an organisation.
An organisation that practises this will definitely get acknowledged by the public and will be sought after by individuals who are looking for an employer of choice.
Leaders will be able to convey their leadership values and traits more effectively, covering a wider audience, both locally and internationally.
Corporate executives of an organisation, especially in business circles will be able to harness the power of social media platforms to improve their services more effectively, elevate their competitiveness and propel the business into catapulting growth.
An effective leader is one that is capable of identifying innovative ways to manage valuable information and is constantly well informed of on-going affairs.
Tools such as social media platforms are powerful in all businesses but their effectiveness can only be measured by the way they are being utilised.
Besides overseeing the IT implementation in Leaderonomics, Yusmar is a professional paragliding pilot who runs his own paragliding school. He is an avid outdoor enthusiast who shares all of his exciting experiences through his social media platforms. To connect with him, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We also welcome your comments in the box provided. For more Be A Leader articles, click here.
First appeared on Leaderonomics.com. Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 4 July 2015