Do you accept the premise that “social media” has expanded well beyond its consumer-generated content roots to encompass a much larger trend of customer-centrism and candor?
Do you believe that the core of a successful social media strategy is making your company more like a person and less like a machine? Do you believe that it’s about humanization – not technology – and certainly not about Twitter?
The world of “social media” is becoming the world of customer experience, a critically important communications/operations hybrid that has lived in the shadows for far too long. “Secret shoppers” and other customer experience fact-finding and consulting initiatives have been around for decades, but it took the rise of social media to shine an appropriately bright light on the importance of micro-interactions (as David Armano articulates in this interview).
In his unique style, Gary Vaynerchuk says it succinctly and profanely: “You want a business model? How about giving a shit?”
And the companies that are truly customer-centric, that are human, that are willing to let consumers peek behind the curtain and be PART of the brand, not just a BUYER of the brand, are those that will succeed in social media.
Out-Caring the Competition
It doesn’t matter if you’re B2C or B2B, if you inherently understand and support the notion that customer satisfaction pays mid and long-term dividends (that aren’t always calculable in a spreadsheet), social media enables you to double-down on that philosophy. You can communicate with your customers faster, more often, and with greater relevance.
The companies that love their customers shine in social media. The rich get richer. That’s why many of the social media success stories are from companies that were customer-focused long before “social media” and will be customer-focused long after this craze goes the way of the pegged jeans and pompadour haircuts.
Social Media is Not An Accessory
But what scares me lately is the widespread belief among companies (and their agencies) that social media can be bought or constructed as a bolt-on initiative. Like an aftermarket roof rack or super funky license plate frame, it attaches to the car, but it looks ungainly and unnatural.
That’s because you can’t fake social media prowess at the brand level. The less you believe in the power of one customer’s experience, the more forced and phony-baloney your social media effort feels and sounds.
Is it any wonder that companies that engage in “middle finger customer service” (as Greg Verdino perfectly puts it) don’t have widespread social media programs? (he types, looking at his US Airways boarding pass)
So before you march into the C-Suite to lobby for a social media program, will you first take a few steps back and challenge the company to find new ways to be helpful? New ways to be human. New ways to give a shit? And if you can do that, THEN build a social media effort around it?
Do you promise?
(photo by tao_zhyn)