This article originally appeared in the Jun/Jul 2013 issue of Franchise Warehouse
Almost every business is aware that something is happening, something big and they are aware in a rather vague way that it has something to do with them. Social & Mobile. They are big & getting bigger and it has everything to do with you and your business.
The good news is that it is far less complicated and far less scary than all the buzz words make it seem. Every new advance cloaks itself in mystery with new, complicated sounding words. It was like that when the Internet was becoming a standard platform and it is similar with social & mobile: Conversation, engagement, content curation, inbound marketing. These and other catch phrases give the appearance of a technical and complicated field.
But, at the base of it all, is the simple and ancient human relationship.
Let’s first deal with the issues that make “going social” worrying. More than the mechanics or having and running a Facebook or Twitter account is the mindset that comes with social and the greatest shift in thinking is the issue of control. Brands, quite rightly, have always been obsessed with controlling the brand image. I’ve seen marketing people argue for an hour about where a logo should go on a T-shirt. In the social age we have to realise that we cannot control every aspect of our brand. Through social platforms consumers have the freedom to say what they want about any brand they wish, to as many people as they have access to.
Instead of control, brands must focus on building TRUST. Trust is the new control. If you are trusted by your community you will have at least some control. Trust is built through transparency and credibility. When you are seen to be actively engaging and transparently dealing with customer problems or complaints and when you provide value to your community they naturally come to trust you. If you try to just sell them they will run for the digital hills.
The next issue is one of resources. Yes, these platforms all free but employing people to look after your social presence is not and neither is the time it takes to build a community that trusts you. As much as possible have a person (or team) dedicated to the task rather than simply amending the Receptionists job description to include Facebook.
And probably the most important issue is ROI, Return on Investment. This continues to be the biggest discussion point of social media. What are we getting for all this effort? Very simply this comes down to measurement. What will tell you if your efforts in social media are successful? It’s not just followers. What percentage of contacts are going to your website and how many of those are being converted to sales? Is your community sharing your content? These are just a few things that can be measured. Measuring progress is critical since it is how you tell if it’s been worth it.
But there is no getting around the fact that going social is an imperative. The longer any business delays the further out of touch they become.
We must understand that consumers (and that includes you & I) have changed the way they interact with commerce, the way they buy. We have all learned to dislike advertising and “being sold”. We want brands to be there when we need them and provide us what we need, at our convenience. And more and more of this interaction is taking place on our mobile devices. Our smart phones are the key to the world; we literally have a world of knowledge in our hands and we are connected to that knowledge and our networks all the time. When we shop, we consult our friends and followers, when we buy we inform our friends and followers.
To put it simply you should be doing the following:
- Be active on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter (as a minimum) and others as your confidence and results grow.
- You must have a website that is optimised for mobile – your customers need full access to your website through their smartphones and devices.
- By “active” is meant you are responding rapidly to customer enquiries and providing information about your brand to your followers.
Once you are there and actively engaging you will see the world of opportunity that exists in the social space and you will wonder how you ever did business any other way.
Image courtesy: KROMKRATHOG