It’s a Social Business World

Welcome to the era of social business. No longer are consumers willing to passively accept the carefully controlled messages and companies used to dish out in print and on TV. Now consumers do their own research on Google, check out websites, reviews and can seek their friends opinions and even the opinions of strangers in an instant through social media and mobile texting. In fact, the most recent ComScore report found Canadians spend an average of 45 hours per month online.

What’s more, they are not afraid to speak their minds and complain for all the Twitterverse to see. In fact, recent research on Generation Y attitudes shows that this generation is the most fearless when it comes to voicing their opinions online. They, unlike, Boomers, believe that their online opinions about a product or service counts more than what the brand says. In other words, social proof — what others say about you — counts more now than what you say about yourself.

Broadcast messages are getting ignored

What’s more, your carefully crafted broadcasts are getting increasingly ignored. People want conversation and great content. People who send out numerous “buy my tweets” get unfollowed.

A recent Reuters-Ipsos poll found that 4 out 5 Facebook users have never bought a product or service based on Facebook ads or even comments. Don’t get me wrong. With 900 million users, that’s still a lot of buyers. Many report they don’t even see the ads. I’m not so sure how comparable that is to the effect of a billboard or magazine ad. One thing is for sure, there has to be much more content, conversation and social proof on offer than the just ad.

Yes. I do look up reviews and do other research, as well. I’m not a millennial, but already, I think, you are seeing the influence they have on business. And how this is creating a new, social way of business.

Social media is a conversation not a broaccast

Social media is a conversation not a broaccast

While connected consumers may not be clicking on every online ad, they are looking for community well beyond their friends and family. Facebook is definitely a start, but other social media also provides new ways to be part of a community. We speak in 140 characters or less to followers and those we follow on Twitter. We can tweet to celebrities, gurus and others, and sometimes they even answer back. Google+ gives people a chance to form circles of friends and hang out in videos online. LinkedIn, the prime professional’s network continues to grow, with more than 4 million Canadian users in 2011, up from just under 3 million, spending an average of 65 minutes per month on the site. and Pinterest, the fastest growing social network has added a new way to form community. This time around shared interests, rather than friends and followers.

Social business is about community not campaigns

Social media, then, is about building relationships with your customers. Not campaigns. The social media campaign mentality has gotten even global brands into a maze of derelict social media accounts, lack of follow up, and lack of vision and integrated planning. The Altimeter Research group found in their report on A Strategy for Managing Social Media Proliferation that among surveyed global brands, 60 per cent had no social media plan and an average of 129 social media accounts, many of which they had no idea what to do with. Let me repeat. Social media is not a campaign. Customers expect you to keep answering their questions, keep adding value to the conversation. Anything less is, to put it mildly, lame.

 “Social media is about building relationships. Not campaigns.” Click to Tweet.

Social media should be integrated into a company’s marketing, and if the company is smart, they will work to integrate it into their business processes, so that social goes beyond marketing to customer service and company culture.

Connected consumers share on their terms – not yours

On the other hand, connected consumers want sharing on their terms. With a click they can unfollow and unlike. They choose what of your content to share and they also want to share with you their ideas, photos, videos and other content, when they feel like it. Your company is also in competition with others for your customers’ attention. Facebook, for example, says that only about 16 per cent of your fans, on average, even see your content in their news feeds.

So listen up if you want to get their attention.

So what, in particular, do social consumers want from their current social media engagement? According to Altimeter’s report on The Rise of Digital Influence, customer service was tops at 59 per cent. Deals and promotions received 52 per cent of the votes followed by loyalty and rewards for engagement. I thought that would be of special interest to participants here today. In addition, nearly 40 % said that they thought social consumers wanted to get information and product reviews within social networks. Only 10% saw buying within social networks as a plus.

I’m a proud owner of a Starbucks Gold Card, so I thought I’d start with their Facebook page as part of a case study. A lot of people don’t know this, but you can click on this little arrow and reveal more app tabs for the fan page. You can also change the order, with the exception of the photos tab, which always comes first. I would actually rearrange the tabs to bring the Starbucks Card app and videos up to the top of the page. But let’s take a look at what you can do with their Starbucks card app.

Social Business Case Study: Starbucks

Where you can send a Starbucks Card eGift on Facebook. Not only can you send your friend an eGift card, Starbucks will post it on their wall, or I should say, Timeline, and their friends will see what you’ve done, as well. A nice way to promote using the eGift card to more people. This may even prompt others to do the same.

The other cool thing is that a user can also manage their Starbucks Card and even set up an auto-reload of it right from Facebook.

But there’s more.

People are pinning photos of their e-cards, vouchers and gift cards to Pinterest as suggestions for gifts they’d like to get. And people are then repinning these pins on their boards. See how viral a gift card can be? This, incidentally, is just a small selection of the pins for Starbucks cards.

Starbucks also has its own pin boards. They don’t just pin their food and beverage selections, either. In other words, they are not afraid to share other people’s content or let others share theirs on the Facebook fan page. Starbucks is listening to their fans and inviting their fans to share on their terms. That’s why 5.2 million visit their page.

Now lets look at another big brand who are also doing some great things, but they missed a big opportunity to get more exposure, simply by ignoring a fun video produced by a fan.

Missed Opportunity for Ikea

Singer Brad Go and his Improv Team posted the Ikea Song video on YouTube on May 23. The video showcases Ikea products in a fun way and already has more than 84,000 views. While this is not hugely viral, it’s still far more views than Ikea videos normally get.

So what happened? Brad and one of his co-stars told their friends on Facebook about the video.

It went to Twitter and became one of Twitter’s top videos.

The video also got pinned and repinned on Pinterest. What did Ikea do? Nothing.

What could Ikea have done? Acknowledged this funny video. Ikea fans like a good laugh too.

Social media requires managing, scheduling and keeping a constant alert on what fans and followers are doing. There are some inexpensive ways to manage, schedule and even track social media. For example, Google Alerts is an easy and free way to let Google alert you to online mentions about your business and even what your competitors are doing.

Facebook Insights and YouTube analytics are also free and can help you measure and tweak your social media strategy and content.

Remember, to keep your goals in mind and measure more than likes.

In summation:

COMMIT to the Long Term

INTEGRATE Social Media into Your Business

ENGAGE on Your Customer’s Terms

FOLLOW THROUGH with Your Customers

Continually IMPROVE

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Marilyn Kay, CCP, is the founder of Triskele Consulting. She is an award-winning corporate communicator, with over 30 years of experience. She is also an accomplished web professional, who has launched and managed corporate internets and intranets since 1998. In 2010 she earned certification as a business and life coach. Her coaching skills enable her to really listen and help you better articulate needs and the measurable outcomes you wish to achieve.?

Posted in Social Media
1 comments
Kimberly A Kline
Kimberly A Kline

I like the emphasis you place on being in it for the "long term".  Listening to what your customers want is also extremely important.  Great post Marilyn!