Homeostasis, David? Exactly what is that and what does that have to do with social marketing? The answer is, a lot actually, but first lets define it:
The ability of a system or living organism to adjust its internal environment to maintain a stable equilibrium; such as the ability of warm-blooded animals to maintain a constant temperature; such a dynamic equilibrium or balance. Wiktionary
I know, I know. What? Homeostasis is all about finding equilibrium. While it defines systems, I really want to look at how it works biologically. The reason? Because I want you to think of your social networking as a living and breathing entity. By looking at this way you will put more emphasis on reaching AND maintaining equilibrium.
Social marketing is all about nurturing, building relationships and getting to know your customers and future customers. Social media is all about being human, about being who we are and connecting with people around it. One of the biggest reasons for social failure, after social success, is because equilibrium wasn't maintained. What do I mean by that? I mean that too much emphasis was placed on one part of your strategy while too little was placed on it's supporting players.
Think of the different people that make up your business, the different departments and the different aspects of what makes your business tick. Are you employing social technologies for everybody, in every department, or are you using it only with marketing? Remember, homeostasis is key to the long term success of your social marketing strategy.
As an example think about your marketing department. They are using it to engage in conversations with your community, they are meeting people on social networks and developing relationships. Because they are doing that the people with whom they are connecting feel a certain comradery with your business and decide to do business with you. But, when they do, they soon find out that the product or service doesn't live up to what they imagined it would be. Of course, this causes friction and motives your (ex) customer to tell others about you on the very same social networks your marketing team was using to generate you business in the first place. This is a failure in social homeostasis.
To achieve social homeostasis you must first put certain safeguards in place to ensure that you know when equilibrium is off and things begin to spiral out of control. One of the best things you can do is to combat this with what I call the Strategic Response Team or the SRT. It's the job of the Strategic Response Team to unsure that homeostasis is maintained. They do this with weekly meetings and is comprised of 1 or 2 people from every department. The make up of the SRT is very important, everybody must have a say and bring things to the table that go against the overall goal of the social strategy.
For instance, everything that is said about your business online should be brought before the SRT. Both positive and negatives need to be discussed so that, together, the SRT can determine if changes are needed to the overall daily processes of the business, to ensure that goals are met. What I mean by that is if there is a breakdown in service that caused a negative mention then it's the job of the SRT to decide if the hole needs to be patched up or if it was a one-time thing. Same goes for positives as well, if it's something that can be replicated to delight more of your customers then the SRT will decide if it's something that should be implemented on an ongoing basis.
This is what I meant by saying that your social marketing is both living and breathing. It needs constant attention to ensure it's growth; to ensure that it is growing forward, never backwards. One of the benefits of homeostasis is that it allows for a living organism to function effectively in a broad range of environmental conditions. The same can be said about social homeostasis. By maintaining equilibrium your business is better able to adapt to the ever-changing economical environment.
The Three Control Mechanisms Of Social Homeostasis
- The Receptor is the sensing mechanism of Social Homeostasis. It pays attention to the environment and responds to any changes. This can be done through surveys, talking with your customers and setting up a social mentions dashboard using a service such as UberVu.
- The Control Center is your SRT, it's where the information from the receptor is broken down and discussed.
- The Effector is sent signals from the control center and is the part of the Social Homeostasis process that ensures that what is discussed by the SRT is carried out.
What are you doing to ensure Social Homeostasis? After reading this post are you going to be implementing the three control mechanisms above, to enure that equilibrium is constant?