Don’t Rush into Social Media

A lot of companies are rushing into social media right now. They have heard that Facebook and Twitter are the places to be. They need to be stepping up now and they may be too late as the social media is the future. With all of these and the stories you hear, I’m here to tell you DON’T RUSH!

Social Media Advertising is Different From “Normal” Advertising

Yes, it is true social media is radically different from the media we had before. And yes, it is true there’s a lot of business to be done there and if you don’t want to have it your competitor’s will. However, before you act on social media, you need to adjust the model of your organization and the business model to the new reality of social media.

Let’s compare it with this scenario. Imagine it is winter, and you long for summer time. When summer comes, you try to do a similar thing – yearn for winter time. It doesn’t work because you’re yearning for something that’s nonexistent or not true anymore. The point is that if you have advertised on print, TV or in radio, and you are moving into social media, you are in danger of trying to advertise in social media like you did before on print or TV. A lot of advertising now tries to bring normal advertisement to social media, but that doesn’t make sense because social media is so radically different. Approaching it from the old perspective won’t spell success.

How to Approach Social Media

So how should you approach social media then? Well, it’s not so complicated. It’s pretty simple. The big thing about social media is it means everything, from Twitter, Facebook to blog. It is pretty much anywhere you can comment and where you can have a real discussion that is only very slightly moderated. The most important thing that you need to understand is that there is a back channel.

It means that, as a company or as a person, you don’t own your brand anymore. You don’t own the perception of your products and services, and you don’t even own the ads anymore. What’s happening is that people can get feedback to you and to everyone they want and they can say anything about your product or your service, however and whenever they want. No one is telling them, you have to be positive about things on Facebook. Hey, you can’t say anything negative about Porsche on Twitter! Yeah, you can and people do! And that means if you want to go into social media you need to know the rules first.

The Rules of Social Media

One of the rules says you have to listen. I advise you to approach social media, not as a tool for marketing and advertisement, but as a feedback tool that delivers qualitative and quantitative data about what you’re doing as a company and how good you’re doing it. The measurement here will be positive things people say about your product and service. It can be a tremendous source of information on the social networks. Just as a company would, you would need to have an organization that is geared towards the input and improve the services and products that you offer.

Stop the Guess Work

This is the kind of change you have to make before you need to guess what people want. Now you don’t have to guess. You can take this step out of the equation and focus on getting very good feedback from your clients about what they actually do want. So stop with the guess work. Social media can do better and it can provide better quantitative or qualitative data.

Work with the Feedback and Change

Once you start working with the feedback, there are some things you can do which goes into the direction of marketing. Once you have the feedback and have acted on it or have done something with it, you can circle back to your customers about the feedback. You can tell them what you did with the feedback they gave and then show them what you changed. The important thing is there is change.

Show them, by giving your response to their feedback, how they have improved your organization, your product and services. They will feel very, very good as so many companies will not do anything about the feedback received. How many companies can actually put the feedback to good use? A very limited number of companies can actually act on this. But you will listen to what people say about you and your products, you will do something with the feedback and show the people what you have done with the feedback.

Ask for Specific Feedback

These will result in even more feedback. You can also start to ask very specific feedback, and people will be very willing to give it, because you have already shown that they are doing it for a reason. You will actually take the feedback and use it to improve your products, not do it just for show. Ask for more specific feedback and also ask what you should do with the feedback.

You don’t stop there. Ask what you can do with the product. Ask how you can improve the product or the marketing. Ask how you can take the chances and how you can make that known to the people. Basically, try to turn your customers into fans. If you have fans, they will be very loyal customers, and they will provide you with the feedback that you need in order to succeed.

Use the Potential Value of a Feedback

Companies go wrong in the beginning when they don’t understand that the most important part of the conversation is listening. If you only want to talk, this is a monologue which can be very boring for everyone else. No attention, no business, at least in the long run.

The critical question is: What do you do with the feedback you gained? The feedback in itself doesn’t have any value. Unused, it only holds a potential value. That potential value depends on you. It will only come into place when you actually and seriously try to improve your product and service based on the feedback received.

For that, you need a dynamic process in your organization that deals with the feedback and how to improve processes, products and services. If you don’t have a process lined up, if you don’t have people who are thinking this way, if you don’t have this culture in your organization, then it won’t work.

Tip for Companies Getting into Social Media

Here is a simple tip I have for you as a company. If you want to get into social media, do not approach social media as a marketing tool. Rather, approach it as a feedback tool. Start as many conversations as you can with your current and prospective clients and ask them good questions, and then shut up and listen. Build the values of your organization around the model that is geared to a dynamic feedback clue wherein the feedback you gained is directly used to improve your processes.

At this point, you make all of the improvements and the process by which you make it available for the customers so they, the customers, become part of the process. I guess everyone else has to find their own way towards the use of social media and the perspective. This is just my personal perspective and it is one of many. It is one that has been proven to work, and I think this is one of the most sustainable strategies you can use for social media.

If you use this blue print, I can’t guarantee you very fast results but I can guarantee that you are doing something right here and you will probably be sorry if you joined in on the trend: “Oh, let’s do ads in social media.” I strongly encourage you to understand the market and the processes within the market before you become active in standing alone in social media. Oh yeah we are all humans; we’re also capable of mistakes. Give yourself and your employees the chance to fail and learn.

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