In a world ruled by the immediacy of online and digital channels, companies need to face the fact that a consumer comes into contact with your brand well before you know about them! Take a personal example: I recently found myself on Facebook and suddenly realized I’d clicked three degrees of Kevin Bacon deep and was now looking at pictures of my friend’s, friend’s new dog, trying to decide if I should adopt a puppy from the same shelter. I didn’t know this person – but I trusted my friend, and therefore trusted their friends – and was willing to base my decisions off of what I learned through their social profile.
Or this scenario: you’re looking into purchasing a new Nike Fuel band and find yourself trusting – or at least considering – the reviews on a health and fitness blog, from a person you have never heard of before just because the site showed up “high” on a Google search. Sound familiar? We often rely on this same type of “research” before trying out a new restaurant or deciding whether or not to purchase an album on iTunes. We all want to feel confident in our decision-making, so we look to support those decisions with the resources immediately available to us.
People buy today based on relationships and social opinions, so how a company manages its image and reputation, online and in the media, is essential to its ultimate success. In Tom Bolger’s original blog post, he highlighted the need for “mutual discovery” – a time for two entities facing a potential merger or acquisition to assess one another in a non-invasive way – and how using social media provides the opportunity to do.
In Tom Bolger’s recent post, Looking for a future (business) partner, mate or date? Use Social Media to Get Smart First, he highlighted how West Monroe Partners, like many organizations, now uses social and digital media channels to get smart on peers, competitors, and potential partners.
At West Monroe, we use tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube, in combination with a company-owned digital channels, such as its web site or blog, to understand who a company really is. Yes, it is important to look at what they say about themselves, but it is also essential to evaluate what their peers, past employees, media, and clients are saying about them as well. This intelligence ensures there are no surprises in the 11th hour of a merger negotiation.
For instance, instead of trusting that a company provides exemplary business intelligence services simply because it says so on their web site, it is imperative to read client testimonials, determine if the analyst community feels the same way, assess what the media is saying, and, most importantly, establish if the market is saying the same thing on social media.
Additionally, if they list their values as “collaboration” and “fun,” are you able to validate that they communicate the same thing through their social media channels voice, look and feel? Are they populating these channels with pictures of their people serving and challenging clients together, do they tweet about group activities to better their communities, is the media positioning them as a thought-leader?
Arguably it is not just important for you to do your homework, but to also encourage potential partners, mergers and clients to read up on you as well. We remain very proud of our firm’s brand, staying true to our culture and bound by the very same values that were put in place as the foundation of our firm over 10 years ago. What you will find is the more a firm welcomes you to look through their online profiles and invites you to explore what their partners, clients and employees are saying on social media, the more true to the integrity of their personality and brand they really are. This very belief system is why we embark on a path of mutual discovery in the early stage of every merger or acquisition.
Are you buying what you think? If you haven’t done your homework – you might be missing overlooking some deal-breakers (or game-changers.)