25 August 2008

Fancy term. Really (really) basic ideas.

If the term "social media" freaks you (or your boss or your clients) out and causes consternation in the conference room, consider this. It's a fancy term that describes the tools we use to do something that's been around in business since the dawn of time: get more customers and keep them happy.

Let's scrap the tools for a minute - forget the "What" part of social media and suspend your notions of Twitter or Facebook or blogs or podcasts.

This actually seems so utterly fundamental that part of me hesitates to write this as if everyone's going to say "well duh, Amber." But I keep seeing folks scrutinizing social media as if it were this revolutionary, alien concept in business that has no bearing on what they're used to. And when it comes to the technology specifically, that may be the case. These are the means, but not the end game. In practice, all social media does is facilitate a few good tenets of a customer-oriented business like:

Saying Hello
A good part of smart business is finding new ways to say hello to people who are not yet your customers, ideally by carefully locating them somewhere they gather most, and starting a conversation about something interesting. (Note I did not say finding your customers and immediately starting off by selling something.). And of course, greeting your regular customers in a friendly way, wherever you see them.

Being Available
Before someone does business with you, they may have questions they want to ask about who you are and what you do. They may want to see the people behind the business, get to know and trust you. And once they're your customer, they'll look to you to be accessible, responsive, and personable when they interact with you. Because as we've all heard a dozen and forty times, people do business with other people they like.

Being Accountable
Every business screws up eventually. The more you learn about exactly how and where you've screwed up - including from people who would never tell you directly, but who might tell their friends instead - the better your chances of fixing issues when they happen (if not before). Apologizing, taking responsibility for the mistake, and offering a remedy builds trust and credibility. And a little sense of humor never hurts.

Solving Problems
You're in business because something you make or do makes life or business easier for someone else. Your contributions are more valuable if you can hear the subtleties of those problems in order to better your product or service. And if you hear new problems to solve, that's even better. One suggestion box is good. A few hundred (thousand?) - with built in ways to respond quickly and easily and provide valuable ongoing information to your customers? Better.

Saying Thank You
So much easier when you have people actively listening, and widespread mechanisms for communicating with them.

The real question we ought to be asking ourselves, folks, is not what social media is going to do differently for us. It's how we're going to use a host of new, more amplified, and more ubiquitous tools to do what we ought already be doing, but better.

photo by helico

5 comments:

Beth Harte said...

It's like the old-fashion hardware store where Mr. Jones knew your name and the kind of tools you liked...but on-line! It's really that basic.

Mack Collier said...

Thank you. I think that so many companies want to make social media more difficult than it has to be. As you said, these are nothing but new tools that help you connect with customers, which is something your business should have been doing already. Social media can just make it easier and more effective to do so.

Great post Amber, we need fewer buzzwords, and more common-sense explanations for how these wonderful tools can help companies of all sizes grow their bottom line.

Geoff_Livingston said...

That's the nail on the head. These tools for us to be more honest and forthright with our communications. So how does that change our approach?

classymarketing said...

Great post Amber, spot on. I enjoyed reading it!

Shannon Paul said...

Amber,

This is really funny, but I had a meeting last week that I thought was going to get me into a lot of trouble.

The part where you say "Let's scrap the tools for a minute..." was basically what I said in this meeting (only I was very excited at the time). Only I referred to the tools as "shiny objects" and begged the people in the meeting to forget about them. :)

During this meeting that I thought was definitely going to get me kicked to the curb, I saw for the first time after months of trying to help these same people understand what I felt to be very basic stuff, a new dawn of awareness in their faces.

I think the kind of tenets you've outlined here are going to be what hold more sway than anything new and exciting. The focus on the tools is great for those in love with social media and new technology. Unfortunately, for most people these things scare them to death.

What you've outlined here, every person in business should be able to understand and appreciate. I think this type of explanation is most helpful for getting others to understand social media. Before I was only thinking of this from a PR standpoint, but I now see how it translate to good customer service, too.

Thanks!

25 August 2008

Fancy term. Really (really) basic ideas.

If the term "social media" freaks you (or your boss or your clients) out and causes consternation in the conference room, consider this. It's a fancy term that describes the tools we use to do something that's been around in business since the dawn of time: get more customers and keep them happy.

Let's scrap the tools for a minute - forget the "What" part of social media and suspend your notions of Twitter or Facebook or blogs or podcasts.

This actually seems so utterly fundamental that part of me hesitates to write this as if everyone's going to say "well duh, Amber." But I keep seeing folks scrutinizing social media as if it were this revolutionary, alien concept in business that has no bearing on what they're used to. And when it comes to the technology specifically, that may be the case. These are the means, but not the end game. In practice, all social media does is facilitate a few good tenets of a customer-oriented business like:

Saying Hello
A good part of smart business is finding new ways to say hello to people who are not yet your customers, ideally by carefully locating them somewhere they gather most, and starting a conversation about something interesting. (Note I did not say finding your customers and immediately starting off by selling something.). And of course, greeting your regular customers in a friendly way, wherever you see them.

Being Available
Before someone does business with you, they may have questions they want to ask about who you are and what you do. They may want to see the people behind the business, get to know and trust you. And once they're your customer, they'll look to you to be accessible, responsive, and personable when they interact with you. Because as we've all heard a dozen and forty times, people do business with other people they like.

Being Accountable
Every business screws up eventually. The more you learn about exactly how and where you've screwed up - including from people who would never tell you directly, but who might tell their friends instead - the better your chances of fixing issues when they happen (if not before). Apologizing, taking responsibility for the mistake, and offering a remedy builds trust and credibility. And a little sense of humor never hurts.

Solving Problems
You're in business because something you make or do makes life or business easier for someone else. Your contributions are more valuable if you can hear the subtleties of those problems in order to better your product or service. And if you hear new problems to solve, that's even better. One suggestion box is good. A few hundred (thousand?) - with built in ways to respond quickly and easily and provide valuable ongoing information to your customers? Better.

Saying Thank You
So much easier when you have people actively listening, and widespread mechanisms for communicating with them.

The real question we ought to be asking ourselves, folks, is not what social media is going to do differently for us. It's how we're going to use a host of new, more amplified, and more ubiquitous tools to do what we ought already be doing, but better.

photo by helico

5 comments:

Beth Harte said...

It's like the old-fashion hardware store where Mr. Jones knew your name and the kind of tools you liked...but on-line! It's really that basic.

Mack Collier said...

Thank you. I think that so many companies want to make social media more difficult than it has to be. As you said, these are nothing but new tools that help you connect with customers, which is something your business should have been doing already. Social media can just make it easier and more effective to do so.

Great post Amber, we need fewer buzzwords, and more common-sense explanations for how these wonderful tools can help companies of all sizes grow their bottom line.

Geoff_Livingston said...

That's the nail on the head. These tools for us to be more honest and forthright with our communications. So how does that change our approach?

classymarketing said...

Great post Amber, spot on. I enjoyed reading it!

Shannon Paul said...

Amber,

This is really funny, but I had a meeting last week that I thought was going to get me into a lot of trouble.

The part where you say "Let's scrap the tools for a minute..." was basically what I said in this meeting (only I was very excited at the time). Only I referred to the tools as "shiny objects" and begged the people in the meeting to forget about them. :)

During this meeting that I thought was definitely going to get me kicked to the curb, I saw for the first time after months of trying to help these same people understand what I felt to be very basic stuff, a new dawn of awareness in their faces.

I think the kind of tenets you've outlined here are going to be what hold more sway than anything new and exciting. The focus on the tools is great for those in love with social media and new technology. Unfortunately, for most people these things scare them to death.

What you've outlined here, every person in business should be able to understand and appreciate. I think this type of explanation is most helpful for getting others to understand social media. Before I was only thinking of this from a PR standpoint, but I now see how it translate to good customer service, too.

Thanks!

25 August 2008

Fancy term. Really (really) basic ideas.

If the term "social media" freaks you (or your boss or your clients) out and causes consternation in the conference room, consider this. It's a fancy term that describes the tools we use to do something that's been around in business since the dawn of time: get more customers and keep them happy.

Let's scrap the tools for a minute - forget the "What" part of social media and suspend your notions of Twitter or Facebook or blogs or podcasts.

This actually seems so utterly fundamental that part of me hesitates to write this as if everyone's going to say "well duh, Amber." But I keep seeing folks scrutinizing social media as if it were this revolutionary, alien concept in business that has no bearing on what they're used to. And when it comes to the technology specifically, that may be the case. These are the means, but not the end game. In practice, all social media does is facilitate a few good tenets of a customer-oriented business like:

Saying Hello
A good part of smart business is finding new ways to say hello to people who are not yet your customers, ideally by carefully locating them somewhere they gather most, and starting a conversation about something interesting. (Note I did not say finding your customers and immediately starting off by selling something.). And of course, greeting your regular customers in a friendly way, wherever you see them.

Being Available
Before someone does business with you, they may have questions they want to ask about who you are and what you do. They may want to see the people behind the business, get to know and trust you. And once they're your customer, they'll look to you to be accessible, responsive, and personable when they interact with you. Because as we've all heard a dozen and forty times, people do business with other people they like.

Being Accountable
Every business screws up eventually. The more you learn about exactly how and where you've screwed up - including from people who would never tell you directly, but who might tell their friends instead - the better your chances of fixing issues when they happen (if not before). Apologizing, taking responsibility for the mistake, and offering a remedy builds trust and credibility. And a little sense of humor never hurts.

Solving Problems
You're in business because something you make or do makes life or business easier for someone else. Your contributions are more valuable if you can hear the subtleties of those problems in order to better your product or service. And if you hear new problems to solve, that's even better. One suggestion box is good. A few hundred (thousand?) - with built in ways to respond quickly and easily and provide valuable ongoing information to your customers? Better.

Saying Thank You
So much easier when you have people actively listening, and widespread mechanisms for communicating with them.

The real question we ought to be asking ourselves, folks, is not what social media is going to do differently for us. It's how we're going to use a host of new, more amplified, and more ubiquitous tools to do what we ought already be doing, but better.

photo by helico

5 comments:

Beth Harte said...

It's like the old-fashion hardware store where Mr. Jones knew your name and the kind of tools you liked...but on-line! It's really that basic.

Mack Collier said...

Thank you. I think that so many companies want to make social media more difficult than it has to be. As you said, these are nothing but new tools that help you connect with customers, which is something your business should have been doing already. Social media can just make it easier and more effective to do so.

Great post Amber, we need fewer buzzwords, and more common-sense explanations for how these wonderful tools can help companies of all sizes grow their bottom line.

Geoff_Livingston said...

That's the nail on the head. These tools for us to be more honest and forthright with our communications. So how does that change our approach?

classymarketing said...

Great post Amber, spot on. I enjoyed reading it!

Shannon Paul said...

Amber,

This is really funny, but I had a meeting last week that I thought was going to get me into a lot of trouble.

The part where you say "Let's scrap the tools for a minute..." was basically what I said in this meeting (only I was very excited at the time). Only I referred to the tools as "shiny objects" and begged the people in the meeting to forget about them. :)

During this meeting that I thought was definitely going to get me kicked to the curb, I saw for the first time after months of trying to help these same people understand what I felt to be very basic stuff, a new dawn of awareness in their faces.

I think the kind of tenets you've outlined here are going to be what hold more sway than anything new and exciting. The focus on the tools is great for those in love with social media and new technology. Unfortunately, for most people these things scare them to death.

What you've outlined here, every person in business should be able to understand and appreciate. I think this type of explanation is most helpful for getting others to understand social media. Before I was only thinking of this from a PR standpoint, but I now see how it translate to good customer service, too.

Thanks!