Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Might Not Care About Your Brand, But You Had Better Available Via Social Media!

Yesterday I took a sledge hammer the size of Mt. McKinley and crushed the view being pushed that we all want to talk with you the Brand via Social Media and bring you into our busy lives every day. LINK

Now that your feelings have been hurt, and the CEO just called you into his office because he smells a bunch of BS oozing from your last presentation, wipe your tears. All is not lost.There are some simple reasons to have a Social Media Strategy and be out there via Social. Here are some good reasons:

1] Listening - This is free intelligence on what people are saying about you, your industry, and your competitors. No need to pay a company to do research or create focus groups. Think of Twitter, Facebook, Blogs etc as one big focus group. People will be much more unbiased and willing to tell the truth. Mine this data and use it to improve your products, get pricing feedback, ideas for what the market is seeking. This is critical because your competition is doing this!

2] Conversations - Stop viewing conversations 1 on 1. You need to climb a ladder, take an elevator to the top floor and look down. Even if the people talking with you pop in and out, some not seen back for days, weeks, months, everything aggregated together is one big running dialogue. This is completely tied to my first point above. You can do two things. Let your customers drive the dialogue and see where it is going in a nice feedback loop, or you can drive it. Say you never knew tons of people wished your product had an offering in a new color or there is a problem with packaging. You can get direct feedback as well as gauge the level of importance. Or you can ask the questions and get their instant feedback.

3] Customer Service - This one is a double edged sword. Are people seeking to connect via Social because your traditional customer service sucks? Aka Comcast Cares? Where most people rot on hold, wait for days for email returns, or can't figure out your FAQ page? This makes Social a Bandaid. But hey better to help 3% of your customers via Social than Zero via the traditional channels right? I don't like this one bit. Fix your business model. But this could become a shift in the right direction.

Craft a strategy. Figure out how this can work. Chis Baccus (@cbaccus) who is Executive Director of Digital and Social Media at ATT has set up their Facebook Fan Page for this with each post for help being answered by someone in customer service. It isn't perfect and only helps a small portion of their customers but it works. It can be complicated handling all the requests because it can not be automated, people want people, but plenty of technologies and Agencies exist that can help you with solutions for your type of business.

So maybe most people do not want to engage with you via Social on your terms. But they do, and they will on their terms. You should be there waiting for them. Whether they chime in with a kudos, or a complaint. Or maybe today they wish to discuss something, but won't be back for 3 months. It is a public and human face. And if you do a good job it can improve the view of your company in public and personal perception.

Because what happens if you are not there, when this bratty customer decides they need to vent, whine, or complain? They will vent, whine, and complain even louder! And what happens if this customer of unflagging devotion wants to sing your praise from the highest social media mountain in the land and you are not there? They will feel a void. That you don't care. Plus how can you turn down free intelligence, feedback, and an opportunity to engage with a customer when they decide to initiate it?

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