Saturday, April 28, 2012

Three Reasons to Use Social Media

I recently took a position with a company that is a little behind the times when it comes to their marketing. I found out how behind the times when I suggested to my boss that we implement a social media strategy. His response: "What's social media?"I knew in that moment I had my work cut out for me when it came to convincing him he needed to add interactive marketing in his mix.

Shortly thereafter, I had the privilege of sitting in on a round table hosted by the South Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and Webolutions that was focused on social media. I was able to ask my peers their thoughts on overcoming resistance to social media. The responses were varied and interesting. I won't go into all of them, but I'll pick out three that really caught my attention, that I thought were outside the regular channels of overcoming resistance to a new idea, like throwing numbers at the problem.

1) You Can Work While You are Sleeping

Everyone knows that the blogosphere, tweetosphere, Facebook, and other forms of social media evolve, dialogue, and function when we're asleep, but I've never heard it put quite so succinctly, as when Webolutions Founder and CEO John Vachalek said, "Tell them they can continue to work while they are sleeping." Think about're sound asleep and other people are promoting your product or company. You wake up in the morning to multiple conversations that have taken place through the night. They might be positive and they might be negative, but each one is an opportunity to create interaction with current and potential customers.

I have yet to introduce the idea of social media to an organization that is unfamiliar with it that didn't respond with, "We have no control. What if someone says something negative about our company?" Well, what if they do? This brings me to the next point.

2) Negative Comments Can Add Credibility

We've all gone online to review companies or products and seen postings or reviews that go on forever with nothing but positive to say. My first response is...they can NOT be this perfect. These must be paid reviewers or posters. As someone at the round table point out, negative comments make people feel better about a company or product. That sounds backwards, doesn't it? But think about it. Isn't there a certain comfort level in finding a company that has a few negative comments that have been addressed? Yes...these customers may have had a less than stellar response initially, but the company was responsive and addressed their concerns. That actually builds up credibility, equity, and reputation. It gives insight into the company and its values. That brings me to my third interesting reason for engaging in social media.

3) It's a Better Way to Tell a Story

We're all familiar with the phrase, "actions speak louder than words." A company can identify itself all over its website and other collateral as being customer-oriented, but it doesn't mean a thing if it doesn't follow up on those promises. Sure, we all like to go to a website to see what the company is about, but it's so much more fun to go on a Facebook page or look at the tweets to see how the company is really performing. Are they really responding to customers? Are they truly participating in events that give back to the community? What's going on in the company and who are the people behind it? Social media creates transparency, engages the customers, and lets them get to know the company. Customers are looking for a reason to buy from the company. Sometimes that reason is a tweet or Facebook post that says, "My grandson just got into CU" and the reader happens to be a CU alumni. There you go – a reason to buy from the company.

The Japanese have been practicing social media for longer than it's been around. They just didn't call it that. Business letters always start with a paragraph about the recipient's family or other non-business, personally-relevant topic. They've known for centuries the way to do business is to engage their customer, create a dialogue, and enter into a relationship. The rest of the world is just catching on and doing it digitally.

Social media can be very scary for companies that are used to controlling every aspect of their identity. What they need to understand is, even when they feel like they are not in control, they are. They control how they respond and thus, how the world sees them. Companies that fail to engage their customers are companies that will fail. There's a good selling point for you.


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