Twitter has become the new thing. Before that, Facebook, and even before that, Myspace. And those 3 along with many other social media websites are still going strong and being used more and more as places to network and build brand awareness.
All of these social media spaces have two things in common:
- They are being used to leverage awareness of a brand or product.
- They are most often being used in the wrong way.
The Wrong Way To Use Social Media
With the overwhelming growth of social media, major corporations like McDonald’s, BestBuy, and Dell are creating accounts to interface with potential and already existing customers.
The sad part is that most companies using social media just don’t get it. They are promoting their products but not taking the time to engage in conversation with their customers.
Social Media is a place to build and foster relationships for so much more than forcing your product on everyone with whom you come in contact.
The real reason companies are getting it wrong is because they are bundling social media with their marketing department.
Social Media is so much more than marketing, and the two should never be paired together as one group in a company.
If companies want to be successful with social media, their best bet is to create a social media position or even team, and hire those of us with experience in creating and maintaining those relationships.
Look at Crocs. They are a company that understands social media enough to know that they didn’t understand social media. And hired someone for the sole purpose of running the social media side of the house.
The Right Way To Use Social Media
If you really want to use social media correctly, hire an expert and let them run the show. But if you can’t afford and expert, here are some simple guidelines to follow that will help you tremendously, at least until you figure it out.
- Never forget that social media is about person-to-person connections. You are not speaking as “the company”, but as an individual within that company. Many companies don’t know how to do this, and it takes a lot of practice to find that voice and feel comfortable with it.
- Be a good listener. All companies say they listen to their customers, but do they really LISTEN and let people know that they are listening by responding?
- Be patient. This takes a long time because you are going to be transforming your company, one person at a time.
- Be opportunistic. Start small with the people who are most passionate about building relationships with customers.
- Be flexible. You never know what’s going to happen so you have to constantly adjust your thinking and learn.
- Be collaborative. You need people from up and down the management chain to buy-in.
- Be humble. Remember that you are not as influential as your community. If you forget this, they will let you know.
Are You Social Networking or Social Notworking?
If you aren’t sure which it is you’re doing, it’s as simple as asking your community. People are very opinionated and they will not hold back in telling you whether you’re doing it right or wrong.
This goes back to the step on listening. If you can keep your mouth closed for a moment and truly listen, you’ll hear things you’ve never heard before.