Last week I began a self-study crash course in using social media for businesses. I had to, right? I mean we are now fully engaged in this “New Economy” that is often said to be changing the way the world does business. I hope this really is the future because I have spent a week studying this stuff and let me tell you, it is fun! During this week I have learned a lot—as though I have been drinking water through a fire hose! And I know there is still lots more to learn but if there is one thing that I can say sticks out more than anything else it is this: if you want to effectively use social media for business, do your best to try and be a good genuine person who is honest, uses good old fashioned manners, and shows basic respect for others. Is this over simplifying it? Of course, but here’s the way I see it …
Out are the days of puffery, disingenuous promises, and outrageous claims that strain the bounds of credulity. In the old economy, marketers of goods and services would often perform focus groups to find out what people thought was most appealing about the goods and services they were peddling, prepare a few talking points of information they wanted the consumers to know about the product, then feed it to the consumers through advertisements with a catchy slogan that would make those findings stick into their brains (conscious or subconscious, it didn’t matter). That was it. It was a one way street where the marketers controlled the message so that the consumers heard only that which they wanted them to hear. That is, the consumers had no alternative to the hype they pushed which, most of the times led to disappointment when what was promised was not delivered.
The “Information Age” of the last decade or so enabled the free flow of information available on the Internet and that helped make the one way street into a four lane highway for consumers. Consumers were no longer limited to only the information the marketers wished to feed to them. Consumers who were motivated to do so became empowered to research goods and products and learn vastly more about them than they ever could before. This allowed those consumers to begin seeing through all of the hype and discover the truth about that which they were seeking. They no longer had to believe the controlled message that was being fed to them. This was a huge step in equalizing the playing field between the buyers and sellers of goods and services.
In the “New Economy”, social media has taken a step further the empowerment of the Information Age. Consumers are now armed with information and, by golly they are willing to use it! They are no longer willing to conduct business based upon the puffery, disingenuous promises, and outrageous claims that was forced on them so many times before. What they want now is no different than what all of us have always wanted, it is just that now they have the means to obtain it (or more of it, anyway). They want TRUTH.
Social media has now turned the four lane highway of the Information Age into an interstate highway. That is, consumers are no longer satisfied with simply having access to good and bad information. Other than arming themselves with that information, they have found that by using social media to engage in dialogues with prospective peddlers of goods and services, they have a much better chance of getting to know them, developing relationships with them, and ascertaining whether they find them to be honest and trustworthy based upon that dialogue. This is somewhat akin to asking to speak to the proverbial owner and “looking the man in the eye” like back in the old “brick and mortar days” in that it allows people to judge the character for themselves based upon their own instincts and perception. Moreover, by establishing this type of dialogue and relationship, those who are peddling their wares know full well that if they do not deliver as promised, the reviews will be scathing and many other prospective consumers will certainly hear about it. In other words, social media seems to have brought us back to the balance that consumers had before the era of one-way mass marketing, back to a time resembling that of face to face communications. This is powerful stuff.
Now, I must caveat everything I say in this blog with this caveat: at this point this is all academic for me. I am a true neophyte who has accomplished absolutely nothing through using social media for business! I have no first-hand knowledge on the issue and can only say what I have learned through the writings of others during this crash course. Well that plus a little common sense. Nonetheless, now that I am safely all caveated up, it seems to me that the main way to succeed in this type of business marketing is by forming relationships with and truly serving your customers. Real genuine service seems to be the key here, not just feigned interest until you can make the sale and, as a word of warning if that is how you do business, you had better stay away from social media all together! People know how to smell a rat and you can bet, when they do, they will let the whole world know about it!
So, in summary, what has this crash course taught me after just one week? How about this: (1) use social media to dialogue with your prospective customers and try to form sincere relationships with them; (2) treat your prospective customers (and others) with dignity and respect (i.e., like real people for goodness sakes!); (3) be honest with them; and (4) do not make promises that you can’t keep. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, pray that these rules will catch on with politicians!
9 thoughts on “What I Learned In My First Week Using Social Media For Business”
Nicely done sir. I’ve been playing this field for a bit. While I use it mostly posting for personal reasons, sports, I do get a ton of my industry news alot quicker, and more cogent not having to sift through emails and horribly laid out websites, how I used to get me news.
Now the use commerciallly. Creating a brand. But not just TOMA, but brand loyalty. From talking about community involvement, ways to help, to creating engaging, educational, and even sometime opionative conversations.
It’s a fun and very powerful tool. If used right, hell
Thank you Bryan! I know you and I have both found ourselves in the midst of quite a few good times over the years by using social media …. and taught a few lessons along the way (i.e., “I’m still the same Adam …!”), but I’m firmly convinced this is THE wave of the future and we will either ride it or be wiped out by it so, “SURF’S UP DUDE!”
I’m now on Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress (since yesterday) and Twitter (since last week). Though I have been on both LinkedIn and Facebook for nearly 2 years I have already found Twitter to be more helpful for meaningful substantive information. LinkedIn is very business focused but seems to get used much less than the other media. Nonetheless, I have started using HootSuite so I can hit all of them at once.
You know, at the end of the day I think the most important thing this allows us to do is connect and form relationships with other people. To be successful at that you have to be genuine about being yourself and hope that others can appreciate that. Fortunately, we have always been able to have fun no matter where we are or what we are doing and I see this kind of networking as being no different — I expect this to be fun!
Yes, i do read your content–and I, too, am trying to bridge social media to my consumers. I’m finding it difficult as my target market is very focused. I thought they would want social media plug-ins, but they are ssslow to adopt. Build it and they will come, so they say…waiting.
Rob, thank you for letting me know that at least someone is reading my content! I know what you mean about the difficulty in bridging the gap in such a specialized market — there aren’t yet a lot of significant companies looking to hid a lawyer to handle their complex business litigation based on a cool Tweet! Moreover, when you speak of antiquated and slow movers recall that mine is the profession that still takes pride in using words like “hereinafter”, “whereuntofore”, and “comes now before the honorable judge of said court”!!! Nonetheless, as I mentioned in the comment to Bryan, I am firmly convinced that this is the future and I am going to be at the front, not at the back! As you said, build it and they will come … And I suppose that is where the faith comes in!
Woops. Posting from iPhone and posted before I was done. Comment not showing yet, so I don’t know where I left off. Oh well. You got the point. Hahaha
Very nicely done Shaun. I started using this about 4 months ago now I guess and just recently switched over to WordPress. I do like it much better. You put a lot of thought into your site and it shows. I was very glad to take the time to read each page.
Thank you Bob! You know I really appreciate a compliment like that coming from a pro like you! My goal was just to start a blog … but then I couldn’t stop so I ended up with a couple of extra pages! I really did enjoy creating the site using WordPress and found it to be fairly intuitive — I am looking forward to tricking it up a little now, as I find the time (hahaha).
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