Share this Article
Social media has changed the face of how we do business…no question, and dramatically so.
At one level social media and its impact is easy to understand.
Take the age-old ideas of earned media and community dynamics…add to
that the requisite poise of corporate and personal transparency and you
have the outlines of the core social media building blocks. Very few
rules and seemingly simple.
Click below to read full article....
The bigger and more defining idea for businesses is the reversal of power…the change of center from the corporation to the consumer. This democratization of control turns traditional business models and the world on its head.
This power shift gives people like ourselves, with our blogs and Facebook Walls and Twitter feeds and a Yelp-ish world view, a global network for our thoughts and likes and dislikes. If you think that Nike or Nordstrom or Best Buy is in control…not at all. The customer is, more than ever before. And this is a key building block…maybe more so, the overriding superset of the core elements of a social web reality.
This social landscape coupled with a global marketplace puts the consumer very much at the center of their world and more in control than at any other time in history. Their opinion really matters because of the network effect and with unlimited purchasing venues to choose from, they are the alpha customer. They don’t like a company’s politics? CLICK… Find the shopping process too difficult? CLICK… The typo on the catalog page really annoys them? CLICK…and gone.
This is transformational. One happy and connected customer can start a spiraling of praise which can hyper accelerate building a global brand. And one maligned (or maladjusted) unhappy customer can put the breaks on a multi-million dollar campaign and bring pain to a huge company.
Social media is over analyzed yet often misunderstood and reduced to a list mania of ‘do’s and don’ts’. In actuality, it is difficult to articulate its import and relationship to a business building a brand in language that is not too high in the stratosphere to become abstract nor too detailed where it becomes trivialized and often incorrect.
The power of the social tools and platforms themselves are confounding.
We all remember “The medium is the message” refrain from Marshall McLuhan. Marketers especially have confused the eras. We hear often that the answer is in the tools like blogs or Facebook pages themselves. The ‘Build it and they will come’ mantra.
Not so. These tools, powerful as they are, are the channels–vanilla envelopes demanding personality and message and personae that will spur the broader community conversations. Twitter streams. Facebook pages. Blogs. Tumbleblogs and more. Wildly disruptive tools in the right hands. But remarkably hollow and empty until the spark of a personality or a company voice is found.
We’ve all been through this experiment.
Build and launch the blog…and sit back and wonder, why no traffic? Bring in tried and true traffic aggregaters using scientific SEM techniques. Traffic comes then bounces and is gone.
Start over…find your voice. Find a personal or company point of view and post and post and post…and build credibility and reputation and traffic comes and hangs around. Add scientific methods to the traffic mix, maybe some public speaking by the ‘expert’ or Meet Ups with your fans on top of this and poof…maybe you have a brand in the brewing.
Tools are present galore but just mixing these with a few social building blocks usually amounts to naught. No surprise…look around and you’ll find that what is obvious for success, is also rare. Go to a bunch of websites. Most I bet will be brochureware or raw catalogs with commentless blogs or one-sided twitter feeds and sparsely ‘liked’ fan pages hanging off the site like unused appendages.
For brands this social change appears remarkably difficult to understand…and even harder to execute on.
“Build a community.”“Establish trust.” “Listen to your customers as if they are the company.” “Be interesting”….Non trivial endeavors. And they sound so general and basic they appear wrong. And herein lies the crux why a social approach is so difficult for businesses–because while there are basic building blocks there are no predetermined models nor templates or roadmaps. This is a relationship between a brand and its community of individuals. Each solution is unique…built of like materials but personal and dynamic at its core.
This conversation about community and the customer/company power shift is the start of every meeting at every company, little or big when they begin to think about how social media needs to be part of who they are, how they relate to their customer and how this impacts traffic and commerce and an enthusiast community.
So…what’s the why of this?
Never has the upside for companies been greater, market building economics less prohibitive and the potential to build true brand value and dynamic communities as within reach. The examples are all around us. From large social platforms to innovations in social commerce to an ocean of new start-ups popping up out of the crowd daily.
Companies often act as if the openness of social media–especially between company and customers–is messy and unnatural. Actually, it is just the opposite.
In the proverbial hometown brick and mortar world of shops and customers, successful businesses were built on relationships with the community. They supported their communities, listened face-to-face to feedback and in turn the community supported them with loyalty and their patronage. A two-way street.
Connections between companies and communities is nothing unnatural. It just went missing. Online businesses lost the sense of local, community and connection with customer when they became just a click. Social media is local on a global basis and community dynamics on steroids. Not unnatural, but hyper real in its intensity and ability to impact brand, reach and economic success. Core human and business values on a global and local and real-time stage.
Social media certainly adds a new layer of tools and capabilities but even more, it’s a change of perspective that is not at all subtle. For businesses, it requires that they put a face or a human voice behind their URL. It requires that they listen and respond and host their communities with a place they can interact with other customers and the company itself. The power of conversations and loyalty of a community can’t be underestimated.
Building a brand is hard work. Always has been.
Now it’s easier actually–brick and mortar businesses need to find that tie-in of their value to a real-time connected, often geolocated world. Online businesses need to find a voice, if not a person, who can talk to their customers and create that reality that an online community is not comprised of clicks…but of customers and people.
Originally posted at arnoldwaldstein.com