Be Socially Smart


The Win-Win of Social Media (and where it all came from)

Last week I talked about the basics of social media and used the example of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” I hear so many people talking about how “new” social media is and everyone seems to be scrambling to gain a piece of this social pie. But the truth is, social media is not all that new and that is the focus of this week’s discussion.

Social media is a new tool that marketers are just now tapping into, but consumers have been using the social space for decades to make decisions on purchases such as what to buy for Christmas and where to vacation for the summers or holidays.

Before the Internet, people joined groups in which everyone in the group shared a common interest and yes, when I am saying people, I am most likely referring to women since we make about 80% of the purchasing decisions. It could be a group where everyone got together to paint, knit, run or talk about marriage, divorce, relationships and kids. The point is that they all got together because they shared a common interest and among the chatter, inevitably they talked about purchases, whether they were giving or receiving the advice.

The Internet has just made all this interaction of people with similar interests easier, faster and more accessible, which is a win-win for the consumer and the company. In our capitalist society, social media a great tool to weed the bad companies out and keep the good companies in business. Companies can now see through all the talk in the social media space what customers actually want instead of guessing and then spending millions on advertising to make the customer want their product.

And at the core of what a customer always wants is value, which in today’s society is service. I heard a story the other day about a guy who was frustrated on a Southwest flight about the amount of time it was taking to reach the terminal from landing and of course, he tweeted about it. Within minutes, Southwest responded and said something along the lines of I’m very sorry for the delay and if you give me your flight number and name, I will check into this problem and see if I can speed things up for you. And that is a classic example of how Southwest has been so successful in this social space because they respond to the customer and treat them like a person, not just customer 10551. We don’t want to talk to an automated voice that makes us press 1 for finance and 2 for customer service. We want to be able to have human interaction with this company that we paid good money for to use their services.

So, the bottom line is again, basics. Treat your customers how you would want to be treated and use this tool to find out what your customers like and don’t like and adjust your strategy accordingly. Remember that this entire social space is really just an easier way for people to share and socialize with those in common, so depending on your target market, you may find Facebook to be a much better tool than Twitter or vice versa. But always keep your interaction in the social sphere relevant and valuable to your customer, because it is truly their space and they will run you out so quickly if you speak with a traditional company voice. Think about it, you wouldn’t have invited Southwest or any other company to talk to your running group about things you didn’t care about…would you? So don’t do it to your customers either.

CUT THE FAT AND GET BACK TO THE BASICS

Posted in Social media basics by besociallysmart on September 9, 2009

Social media is the new wave that all marketers are trying to ride, but with all the new information every day on the do’s and don’ts in this social space, it is easy for us to get lost in all the chatter and hype.

 Even though social media is new, all we really need to do is take a step back in time to learn how to use this tool.  Remember that book All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum?  All the basics for all aspects of life, including work, are in that book.  Here are the first three things he list:

1.  SHARE EVERYTHING

The competitive environment we work in (especially in this economy), pressures us to either keep good information to ourselves or take business from others.  The truth is that we need to share with each other and we will all be better off for it.  The same mold will not fit all, but we can share an experience, idea, etc with each other and adapt it to our own business model and help our company and ultimately economy, by increasing business and adding new jobs.

2.  PLAY FAIR

In the social media world, this means don’t pay for followers on Twitter or fans on Facebook.  If you are lucky, this will do nothing to your brand, but most likely it will be a PR nightmare.  Social media is a platform for consumers to engage, so don’t abuse this tool!

3.  DON’T HIT PEOPLE

You don’t have to be the bully to win the fight; so don’t talk bad about your competitors.  People will be more interested in your company if you are positive about your company and your competitors. 

Imagine this:  You walk in to a store and cannot get any customer service (which, I don’t understand, you would think you would get more customer service in this economy, but you don’t).  You decide to go to the store down the street in hopes of better customer service and the sales associate chimes in on the conversation with you about how bad the store down the street is, when really you were just burning off some steam most likely from other things going on in your life at the time.  After you think about the situation, you realize the sales associate was in the wrong to chime in.  If he or she had just said, “I’m sorry about that experience, but I would love to make it up to you here,” or something of that nature, you would be more likely to go back to that store and be a loyal customer.

So there it is – Robert Fulghum’s first three kindergarten lessons applied to social media.
Don’t forget to continue the conversation on twitter with me @valenciavl