Posts tagged ‘social media’
I read a fine post on Only Dead Fish the other day. It dealt with the question of how we find community in our fragmented world. Another question occurred to me: what does the fundamental human desire for community have to do with marketing?
Belonging is in our DNA. The instinct to congeal into tribes and villages is powerful. But it’s not unconquerable: post-war American society did a great job quashing it. For generations we were told that happiness equals stuff rather than happiness equals belonging. We moved to suburbs where we could set ourselves apart, with lots of room for our possessions. It didn’t really work out.
Now belonging is back. Open source aligns programmers and users in a shared purpose. The Internet and social media allow disparate people to form communities despite boundaries that would have kept them in different universes a couple of decades ago. People share information, opinions, and ideas. And sharing is the basis of open innovation, and the basis of community.
What’s the implication? How can we build communities in ways that help us build our business?
We need to realize that the old marketing model, by which I try to persuade you to think the way I want you to think, is on the wane. In the new model, we empower and share. We have knowledge, and we want to share it, to make you smarter and more able to do your job.
When we market, we need to be conscious of the community we’re creating. When you share knowledge and empower people, you build trust. And trust is the basis of community – and business success.
You hear this complaint a lot: trade shows aren’t cost effective, but if we don’t show up, the market will notice.
They even notice if you show up with a smaller booth to save money, so you splash out – with little ROI – to avoid starting a rumor that your company is in trouble.
For some companies, social media is a defensive investment as well. You need to have them “like” your company or product, just because it’s possible for them to do the same with your competitors.
Since social media involves hard costs, it will ultimately drain your organization, as defensive investments do, unless you look at it from a different perspective.
The best way is to contribute to the community – make it smarter. You could use your social media power to point to webinars, white papers, tips – anything relevant that makes people smarter.
Too much self-promotion in your social media, and you lose credibility. As I was writing this, I came upon Danny’s Brown’s distinction: he calls it the difference between engaged and engaging.
The next step is fitting your social media into your lead nurturing strategy. Be present, entice, engage, make them smarter, and nurture them.
More work, but it’ll pay off better than just blowing your own horn.
If you believed the hype, you would think the only way consumers are telling their friends and family about customer experiences is via social media. Jimmy had a terrible experience with an airline? He must be tweeting about it. Sally had the best dining experience of her life at the new restaurant in town? She must be praising the restaurant on Yelp and telling her friends all about it on Facebook.
Not so, according to a new study by the Temkin Group which shows social media play a small role in these types of communications. By far, people tell friends and family about their best and worst customer experiences by phone, email and in person. As marketers, the problem is you can’t listen in on those conversations. It’s the same problem marketers have always had.
That’s why, despite the promise and hype of social media for listening to customers, it’s STILL crucial to have a proactive, ongoing, strategic customer listening program.
Social media is still portrayed as a part of the mix – another tool for communicating with and learning about customers. And so it is. But unlike market research and advertising, social media can bite back hard. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and blogs are perfect channels for dissatisfied
customers to advertise their complaints. Or stoke anger, spread just indignation and yes, broadcast lies.
This is one very dangerous form of communication.
Nestle saw the power of this recently. In his blog Web Strategy, Jeremiah Owyang documented how Facebook became both the battlefield and the weapon for Greenpeace to attack Nestle for their treatment of the world’s rain forests. Jeremiah got it right when he wrote:
Ownership isn’t clear – yet the power belongs to community.
To which I would add: and the power is most effective when used in a negative way. In marketing as everywhere else, bad news sells.
Web Strategy’s post urges companies to prepare for attacks, which is a good idea. Just a few years ago, these kinds of battles had to be fought via the industrial media, or else on cranky websites that might or might not get discovered. Companies are learning the hard way how anyone can use free tools to attack their reputation.
But since the social media battle in question is political, let me borrow a political term: constructive engagement. You need to do more that fortify the battlements and arm the troops. The best way to forestall attacks is to deploy a clear strategy for developing an ongoing relationship with your customers.
If you’re just monitoring social media, you’re listening passively. If you’re just tweeting about special offers and new products, you’re advertising. But if you’re listening proactively, engaging customers in dialogues about their needs and the issues they care about, in a way that generates new ideas and new solutions, you’re you’re building relationships. And as any true warrior knows, the art lies in avoiding a battle – especially a battle you can’t win.