Being the real deal: how to thrive in the social media age

You don’t need to look far to realise we’re now all doing business in a reputation-driven economy. People’s opinions are heavily influenced by their social networks, and their perceptions of you might have nothing to do with any direct experience of your business.

At the same time, the Facebook age demands ever-increasing levels of transparency. Anyone can see deeply into your life and they’re not afraid to share their thoughts with the rest of the world.

In this social media era, a positive reputation can’t be ‘spun’ - it can only come through consistent and authentic behaviour. In short, you have to be the real deal.

This has big implications for all of us, whether we’re in government, the corporate sector or not-for-profit. These days everyone with whom we do business is a ‘mystery shopper’, with a direct hotline to the world at large through social media We can say what we like about ourselves and our businesses through marketing or PR, but it all comes back to the specific behaviour of everyone in our organisation.

Every interaction – each email, phone call, face to face encounter, online posting, meeting performance – all incrementally fuel the fire of reputation. It can be a brilliant, illuminating display or a destructive inferno that ultimately consumes our business.

To thrive in this new economy, we need a refreshed focus on building skills in our people. A genuine commitment to good old-fashioned organisational values, superior communication and engagement skills, a deep understanding of the power of relationships and networks and an ability to anticipate and resolve issues before they snowball – these are the attributes of a healthy business in 2014 and beyond.

What will you do this year to prepare your team for the growing challenges and opportunities of this reputation-driven social media age? To help them be the ‘real deal’, the greatest versions of themselves they can be? Your business or organisation will live or die through its reputation, and it’s no longer just a problem for the marketing or PR person/department.

Everyone in your business IS its reputation. Give them the tools they need to carry your organisation to greatness.