Social Media Is Not Going Away — So Get On Board

“The Magnificent Ambersons” is a Pulitzer Prize winning book written in the early 1900’s by Booth Tarkington that chronicles the demise of one of the wealthiest families in the town. George, the saturnine grandson, simply refuses to adjust with the changing times, preferring to shout “Git a horse” to those who drive their new motorized cars past him rather than understand what makes these cars so desirable.  Its lesson holds true today —  embrace change or risk becoming irrelevant.

In his blog “CFO Strategist“, Chris Muccio sums up why Social Media is here to stay and why you should embrace it.  According to Chris, “until the day we stop having business conversations, social media will be around, although it will always be in a constantly changing form.”  Here are Chris’ thoughts from his blog:

“Is there a right way and wrong way to “converse”?

There are no “right ways” but there are a lot of wrong ways.  For instance, if you and I were conversing and I stopped talking, what would you do?  Probably walk away, right?  Same thing in social media.  If you begin to engage your customers, prospects, etc, and then all of sudden stop communicating with them, the odds are they will simply walk away.  This is very bad considering these are the very people that are most interested in your business and now they’ve moved away from you.  What to do?  Here’s a simple strategy – set a social media participation schedule that you can keep up (i.e. 15 minutes per day or what you can handle) and stick to it!  This way you will be able to sustain your conversations with those that matter most to your business.

We are not generating sales yet we are participating, what’s wrong?

Lets answer this question with a question – In your non social media tactics, are you focused on a hard sell and not relationship building?  Basically, do you just talk to people to see if they want to buy something from you without having a relationship with you first?  Probably not, right?

Yet that is what some business leaders are inadvertently doing with social media.  They are simply trying to “sell” without establishing a relationship first.  In terms of the buying cycle, they are expecting social media to be a magic pill that attracts late stage buyers without relationships, and expect them to immediately make purchases.   However, no relationship = no purchase potential.   This is no different than what we face in real life.  Businesses spend vast amounts of money to build relationships through branding, customer relations, etc and then over time, those relationships convert to sales.  Interestingly, the spot that social media is very powerful is in connecting with early and mid stage buyers and building exponential amounts of relationships.

I can’t participate because my customers aren’t on social media.

Well, that can be true, but typically businesses have more than one type of customer.  Perhaps the end customer is not on social media, but perhaps a referral sources or connector is.  Alter your thinking slightly, wouldn’t it make sense to build social media relationships with those “customers” vs then ultimate end user?
I am worried about customer reaction and it spreading negatively on the web, so I don’t participate.
Well, the bad news is that it is not up to you whether you want to participate or not.  In a recent study conducted by Edleman, they stated that roughly 6 out of 10 people between 25-64 were willing to share their experiences on the web and roughly 8 out of 10 people in those same age brackets, trusted their peer’s recommendations.   For a case in point, let’s look at the viral video, United Breaks Guitars. It is a little ditty about how United broke one guy’s guitar and then didn’t remedy the situation.  Well he shared his story on the web and received about 5 million hits in the first 6 weeks.  If you do the math on the length of his video along with all those views, it equates to roughly 44 MILLION negative 30 second commercials against United. (Granted not everyone watches it from beginning to end but this is the extreme to show a point).  Now no matter what United does now, it will be extremely difficult to undo all that negative attention.  The only strategy here should have been a proactive one and to address all customer issues from the start.

We can talk about this for 3 hours (and we usually do during our presentations) but let’s turn it back to you and hear your perspectives.  The key takeaway here is that social media at its core is about a “conversation” and we have hundreds of those in our businesses daily.  The challenge is to determine how to leverage social media tools to plug into online conversations and relationship build.”

Well done Chris.  Well done.

One Comment

  1. September 18, 2009

    Nice content indeed! i will visit as often as i can.