Conventional marketing wisdom says give the customer what they want and they will return. And true enough, that wisdom has been the basis of many marketing conventions. But what happens when your customers look for you and you aren’t there? Who will answer their questions? That is the question you need to ask when considering adding social media to your business.
Local garages, stores and restaurants are realizing it pays to be where their customers are – and that is online in the social media space. I am constantly hearing that people don’t have enough time, resources or [insert excuse here] to develop and maintain a social media presence. Yes, growth is organic and slow, but that means you’re doing it right.
While the Internet took some 40 years to go mainstream, smart phones are capitalizing on a mobile society in less than ten years with a mix of user fun, function and content. Whether you have a Blackberry, iPhone or Android phone, there are news, weather, interest and industry-specific content, and social network applications. Sure there are games, but NOBODY gets those. (I am holding back a smirk).
Social Networking: It Isn’t Who You Think
A Nielsen study finds that women 35-54 comprise the largest user segment of mobile social networks. They also use mobile social networks 10 percent more than their male counterparts.
In all, 70 percent of mobile social media users fall into the 25-54 age bracket.
Only 16 percent are 18-24, and a mere 7 percent are in the 13-17 year old range.
When I say “use” mobile social networks, I mean that they use their smart phones to “friend” people, “tweet” and simply communicate. They are not asking about television shows. These people, on the whole, have a purpose and a network of people that extend around the globe. More important, they develop, as successful networkers do, a “sphere of influence.” What used to be a term in international relations has become an interpersonal term, and something you can borrow and leverage.
This is not rocket science: If you listen to people, react to them as if they were in front of you and treat them the way you would like to be treated, you will do fine.
If you are wronged in the community, it will be the community who comes to your aid. That is why you need to become a good community member and slowly build your presence.
Do not confuse the number of friends or followers with influence. That would be as wrong as judging a person’s popularity on the number of friends that they appear to have. Also, don’t think you can push sales at people in the world of social media. They are there for access to conversations of their choosing and some, but to a lesser extent, for the deals.
The Only Thing More Important Than Conversations: Listening.
You need to find a good way to monitor how people are talking about you and your brand. Do this BEFORE you start speaking out. For free solutions, socialmention.com, Tweetdeck and Tweetgrid.com provide several different ways of monitoring the buzz around your (and your competitor’s) companies and products. Solutions like Radian6 provide more detailed insights and analytics. Simply, the faster and more accurately you can measure trends, the quicker you can react to them – and look like the hero you want to be.
I’ve often quoted Comcast social media manager Frank Eliason as having the most powerful sentence I’ve seen on Twitter: “How can I help?” In that simple phrase, it says that you heard them and you want to help. Never underestimate the power of lending a needed hand. You will have opened the door to a customer service moment that can be a huge win or loss. Either way, it will likely be shared with others and indexed in search engines. This may mean you will have to streamline your customer service process or perhaps add a new priority for some social media cases.
Did you ever wonder why there were so many billboards in New York’s Times Square? It’s where the people are. With Facebook poised to potentially beat Google as the #1 onsite destination web site and Twitter with an older, wealthy and influential demographic, you may consider being in social media. After all, this is your Times Square, where your customers are. The difference: You can afford it.