Having just attended the 2nd Annual Social Media Conference in Johannesburg I thought it pertinent that I blogged about Social Media and how it is affecting people, business and marketers alike.
We have become a society fixated with immediate results and instant gratification…
The evolution of the internet itself has fueled a lot of this transformation in information consumption.
The first “version” of the internet was basically a directory and if you were listed there you were doing well… You spoke; and the masses had little choice but to listen.
Then the Internet changed and people were able to talk back… Conversations started between companies who were ready and willing to engage and their consumers who were more than ready to give them their thoughts…
The third “version” of the internet we find ourselves in at the moment is commonly referred to as the “social web” as it is no longer about 2 way communication between a website and a consumer, but the interaction of the consumers themselves about your company or product where most of the time you are not expressly invited to the conversation.
The beauty of social web though is that while you are not being engaged 1 on 1 with your consumers conversations, you are more than welcome, nay, encouraged to listen to what they are saying and then respond.
The key lessons there are ‘listen’ and ‘respond’…
Censoring and gagging your consumers who are talking about you – especially when it is bad – is possibly the worst thing that you could do for your brand. It shows that you are frightened about what the public generally thinks about you or that you are arrogant in believing that their thoughts are not worth listening to… Listening to your consumers, and more than that, offering them a platform on which to speak about their interactions with your organisation – both good and bad – is the first true step in understanding and utilizing social media to your advantage. Listen to them and learn from them.
Responding is the next and equally important lesson. When people are talking negatively about you it is far, far easier to simply ignore what they are saying and hope like hell that they are going to go away and the issue will be forgotten…
Not Going To Happen..!
As what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, similarly, what happens on the internet, Stays On The Internet…! The negative comments are not going to go away, they are not going to be forgotten and with the advancement of Search Engine Optimisation, and the stance that Search Engines are taking, user generated content, the same content that you are trying to ignore, the search engines are giving value to and are 9 times out of 10 ranking highly on prominent search engines.
Probably higher than your website itself…!
This means that you need to respond quickly and effectively to any negative and indeed, positive comments that are being made about you online.
Claiming ignorance is no longer an option as access into these conversations has never been easier and the information is readily available 24 hours a day, begging and pleading for your attention… And if you are not going to give it your attention, your competitor is and they are going to turn your unhappy customer into their happy customer!
Combining these 2 very important aspects with a way to integrate your social media strategy with the rest of your marketing strategies is a guaranteed way to success, not only in avoiding alienating your current customers, but also in winning new ones.
The realm of social media is still a new and scary place to be, which is why many businesses and marketers are hesitant to get their hands dirty as they relinquish all control that they had by pushing messages one way, and have to succumb to the masses thoughts and opinions.
It is precisely this reason why we need to get involved in social media and be forever vigilant as to what is being said about us online and ensure that we are adequately prepared to embrace the challenges and successes that social media brings.