Skip to content

What Social Media means to your business

2009 May 20

I found two interesting posts today that are seemingly contradictory.  The first post citing a study done by Knowledge Networks boasts the headline:


The press release goes on to say, “Obviously, a lot of people are using social media, but they are not explicitly turning to it for marketing purposes, or for finding out what products to buy. It’s really about connecting with friends, or connecting with other people,” stated SVP-Group Account Director Dave Tice.

“What we’re seeing is that word-of-mouth is still the No. 1 most influential source, followed by TV. The influence of social media isn’t at the bottom of the list, but it is somewhere in the long tail of marketing – about the same as print ads, or online [display] ads.”

The headline of the second post, an article in Advertising Age Claims:


The article goes on to state,

“All those brands trying to figure the ROI of Twitter? They might do well to follow the lead of the local pizza joint.

NAKED PIZZA: Recent Twitter promotion brought in 150% of a recent day's business.
Naked Pizza, a New Orleans healthful-pizza shop that’s hoping to go national — Mark Cuban is a backer — has been marketing itself via the microblogging service. And recently it has started to track Twitter-spurred sales at the register. In a test run April 23, an exclusive-to-Twitter promotion brought in 15% of the day’s business.”
What is Social Media?  It’s really word of mouth advertising on steroids.  People don’t log in to their favorite social networking site to be bombarded with advertising. There’s a blight of advertising everywhere else they look.  They log in (and they log in often) to stay in touch with people they like.  People who share their values.  People they enjoy engaging with.
People will engage with a brand if the brand understands the rules of engagement.  Social Networks are  not for those who rely on interruptive messaging.  It’s about building relationships. It’s about listening (I’d recommend invoking the 80/20 rule – listen 80% and talk 20% of the time).
People don’t watch TV to see ads either. They watch programs that they like, and they are willing to accept the intrusive ads because they know that’s the price they must pay to watch their show. The rules are different online.

People control the message. They control what they click and what they delete.

Smart Social Media practitioners understand that and ask questions, do a lot of research, and only speak when they have something to say.  Something that is of value to their followers.
I attended the monthly meeting of the Seattle Chapter of MCEI last night.  The speaker was from JD Powers and Associates, and he spoke a lot about brand expectations and brand loyalty.  About how consumers judge a brand, and in turn how those judgements relate to brand rankings in the JD Powers surveys.
It got me thinking about the brands I own, and why I am loyal to certain brands and just put up with others.
I LOVE Acura. Big statement, but it’s true. I’ve owned two Acuras and can count the times they have been in for anything other than routine service.  The number?  ZERO!  Going to the dealership is a breeze.  I make an appointment, the service write is waiting for me when I get there, I’m quickly checked in and either drive away quickly in a loaner car, or wait in the lobby as my car is cared for. The car is done when promised, I pay and drive away smiling in my serviced, washed and vacuumed car.
I have also owned three Audis.  My wife LOVES them.  What’s not to love?  It’s a 3.0 litre A4 Quattro convertible.  While I do love driving that Audi, I live in mortal fear that something BIG is going to go wrong with that car at any moment, and it’s going to cost me a small fortune to fix it.  Then I’m going to have to make an appointment at the dealership and wait in a long check-in line, fill out a bunch of extra paperwork for the loaner, and then wait for the dreaded call that they need to order the part and it probably won’t be in until the next week.  And worst of all, I’ll probably need to bring the car back in a few more times as it will take the dealership that long to fix the problem.
Why do I love Acura?  First off, my RDX is really fun to drive.  It’s an SUV sports car.  The blue-tooth works amazingly well with my cell phone (far better than others I’ve heard including BMW).  The radio and MP3 CDs I burn and play in the car sound amazing.  But most important,  IT NEVER BREAKS!
I’ve asked the service guys why they don’t have a line at their desks when I come to check in, and they say it’s because they do mostly maintenance, and not a whole lot of repairs.
I’ve never asked the Audi dealers, but I’m assuming from the line at the counter every time I bring in my car that they need a lot of repairs.  And if your Audi needs a repair,  be prepared to spend a lot of money!
Which brings us to Operations, in the age of Social Networking.
  1. If your business makes a product, make a great product.  Even if it’s an inexpensive product, make it a great inexpensive product.  The less it breaks, the better people will like your brand
  2. When your product does break make it easy for people to contact you.  Hire great people and train them well.  Enable them to really help the consumer.
  3. Don’t try to squeeze every last penny out of every transaction.  That will alienate people.
  4. Once you fix the problem, follow up with the customer to make sure they are satisfied.  Make it real.  And really listen.
These steps are so simple, but as you look at the list and think of brands you use every day, think of how few of these simple steps are followed.
The item that breaks as you assemble it because A) the parts are crap and B) the instructions were written in a language that doesn’t actually exist.   You call customer service, and the very nice person in India really wants to help, but must stick to the script.  And I mean really stick to the script.   Or, in many cases you can’t even connect by phone – because it’s easier for the company to stick to a script via email.
Then, there’s the follow up call, made by someone who barely speaks English and could really not give a damn about me or the company they work for.
Before the days of Social Networking, brands could be sloppy.  They could make and sell crap, and lock consumers into their “system” to benefit company shareholders.  Truthfully, to benefit top management.  Today, it’s a different story.
Look at KFC’s recent marketing efforts.  Getting attention for their new “Fresh” menu by filling pot-holes to “refresh” city streets, and publicising coupons for free meals on Oprah.  Both were a disaster, because all these campaigns did was expose the mess that is KFC Operations.
So, which headline above is correct?
Is Social Media and Social Networking right or wrong for your business?
The answer?  Both are correct.
  1. Use Social Media first to listen to what your customers are saying about you.  Really listen.  And fix the things they are complaining about.
  2. Enable and train your employees to really help the customer solve their problem on the first contact.
  3. Be friendly and courteous.
  4. Make sure your company works – for the benefit of the customer.
  5. Get your Operations team on board.  If you want to go on Oprah to give away chicken – make sure your stores have enough chicken to give away to every customer with a coupon (see the videos below to see what happens if you don’t).
  6. Engage with, don’t just “message” your customers/followers.  Ask them what’s important to them and then deliver.
  7. Think long term, not short term.
And don’t be at all surprised to see a sales increase when you do offer your Social Networking friends a deal.  If you have all of your other bases covered, that deal will not only drive sales today, but tomorrow as well.
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS