I saw a video the other day on Twitter from Crumple it Up. The original post came from Socialnomics. It finally brought to light all the reasons why brands, who still hesitate to engage in social media, should do it now. This is not a fad or a testing arena. Social media is a place that’s existed for a long time and has gone undetected by the big brands. This is a place that’s held powerful discussions that have affected the very brands that have ignored or dismissed it. This is a place that can impact every part of your organization as a whole. This is a place that will change the way you think and approach your business.
I understand why it’s difficult to enter into this space: some brands aren’t ready to face the consumer head on… one to one…in conversation. This is not a medium that befits a corporate PR guy, willing and ready to pull together approved responses espousing the view of the corporation to the masses. No one in the social arena pays heed to any of the corporate speak. They just want to talk and they want to be heard.
For those brands who hesitate and fear the medium, here’s what I have to say:
- Start-ups have been engaging in social media for years and have benefited greatly. They were not endowed with huge marketing budgets so they’ve had to resort to more efficient roll-up-your-sleeves-type approaches to succeed. The key to building strong and enduring brand: do it one satisfied customer at a time!
- People want to talk to you and they want you to listen to them. Be warned that you will hear the good and the bad. The key is learning from it and understanding its implications.
- Confront your detractors. They are the key to making you greater. One of my clients continues to engage with the complainers, as well as the rally-the-troops-and-boycott-the-company type misfits. And they’re tackling it one issue at a time. The company has a long way to go to earn respect and confidence from its customers but the very act of engaging has mitigated customer churn. It has also provided a NEW avenue for customers to provide their views and suggestions and to feel like they’re being listened to. Once you satisfy a detractor, he will be your most avid supporter. And be ready to open the doors to a flood of new business.
- Engage as a person. You don’t need the veil of an organized, PR-approved response — that goes nowhere in this space. It’s akin to meeting new people at a Christmas party: Introduce yourself. Tell the other person about you. Then ask about the other person. Stop and listen and understand. Remember, the corporate voice needs a human voice to be accessible and to engage in meaningful dialogue.
- It’s not easy. It takes a lot of work. But the effort produces strong relationships that are lasting. And the money….it’ll be there as well…guaranteed!