Brand Engagement

Engagement U. Denver Preview: A B2B Communications Expert on the Challenges for Business

EEA Communications

With Enterprise Engagement U. coming up April 14-16, we’re going to be previewing some of the insights attendees will gain at the event. We recently spoke with Paul Hebert, our own Social Media Editor, one of the early adopters of social media in business-to-business, Vice President of Program Design for Symbolist, co-author of our course on communication and a presenter at Engagement U.

Despite all of the new media and channels available to organizations, Paul thinks businesses in fact have come a long way toward figuring out how best to communicate in today’s environment. “This is actually a great time to be in the field of creating great content, or helping curate content for others,” he says, “because social media has made a mess out information. Anyone can now put up a blog and say just about anything, so it can take a long time to sift through all of the nonsense to find what you need. The eyeballs will go to the people who create meaningful content that helps, entertains, enriches, or otherwise engages people.”

Paul, whose breakout session on social media and communications is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14, wonders if social media is already going through an early transformation, as organizations on the one hand seek to open up a dialog with customers and employees while at the same time grappling with the questions of if and how to moderate the dialog. As everyone knows who works with the general public, conversations can get nasty fast.  Paul believes the jury is still out how to manage the conversation until organizations have fundamentally addressed the underlying issues that create negative feedback.

“Companies have gotten away for centuries with not having to keep promises,” he notes. “How can you open up your organization to a freewheeling dialog when there are probably multiple areas of dissatisfaction not being addressed at the fundamental level.”

Another issue Paul raises is the nature of what’s being communicated and shared with everyone related to our organizations, from customers and distribution partners to employees, suppliers and communities. “How much time do people really have for all of this stuff?” he asks. “Yes, smart phones have opened up extra hours of time to engage people per day – and that’s great – but that doesn’t make it any less imperative for us to figure out precisely what we’re communicating.”

At the end of the day, says Paul, it’s all good…”because what social media did was create a ‘6th estate’ powered by people. The power now goes to those with the ability to make people of like-minds and interests want to consume and share content – in other words, engage.”

The real challenge for a typical company, he says, is having marketing or HR communicators who understand these new rules of communication, since they really aren’t taught anywhere except on the job.

In addition to talking about some of these bigger trends, Paul’s course will take people through the basics of communications and how to relate these tools to other areas of engagement covered at the conference.

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