Right now thousands of live, passionate and authentic conversations are taking place all around you that impact your company’s brand image and revenue – both positively and negatively.
Isn’t it time you got off the sidelines and into the game to help shape and facilitate these customer dialogues?
Until recently, the majority of our relationships and conversations have been influenced by geography. Since relationships are contingent upon regular communication of thoughts and emotions, this makes perfect sense.
Enter social media.
While the individuals you regularly hang out with are influenced by geography, “social media” applications rapidly expand the number of individuals with whom we develop relationships with and establish trust. It is now easier than ever to locate and associate with others who share our passion for the arts, sports, music, video games, ideology, watching videos of people slipping and falling, etc.
Yes, today’s consumer trusts total strangers and values his/her opinions and experiences with products and services.
As marketers, we have the opportunity to drive change within our companies.
All public touch points, such as: advertising, public relations, online marketing, customer service, media buying and social media impact the brand, reputation and revenue. Brands aren’t defined by campaigns, but rather by consumer ecosystems.
Welcome to the present, where every consumer now has a soapbox to share his/her opinions and experiences with the world; and listening to these conversations is a requirement for every company.
Take the presidential election as case in point. The “I’ve got a crush on Obama” video wasn’t made by the Obama campaign, yet it has garnered more than 9.5 million views. Thirty-five percent of Americans have watched political ads and videos online which is three times more than in 2004.
The fact is people want to communicate and need to communicate – it’s in our DNA. And technology allows us to harness these consumer conversations as time for face-to-face communications become scarcer. Whether it is social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, review sites like Epinions.com or group bookmarking sites like Delicious; we now feel more connected to our friends, family and “Joe the Plumber” via social mediums.
How can you lace up your shoes and check into the game?
First, embrace the concept that communication between your company and its customers is a two-way conversation – not a monologue. Consumers want more than a boilerplate response or canned talking points. They want insight. They want to know you are accessible and that you care.
Next, decide whether you are in listen mode or proactive mode. Listen mode entails monitoring a vast array of online sources to determine where and when your brand (as well as your competitor’s brands) is being discussed, and analyzing the sentiment, tone and influence of those comments to improve your company image and operations.
Listening is commonly referred to as Conversation MiningTM, and includes a program where members of your staff (or agency partner) will jump into social media conversations to put out fires and/or provide strategic counsel.
Proactive mode takes the program from observer to active participant by creating social media content to help start and facilitate (not just react to) conversations between consumers and your company. Blogging, creating videos, developing a Facebook widget, and encouraging customer reviews are a few ways to get started.
Ultimately, if you don’t reach out and become part of the online conversation about your brand, the social media community will define the brand’s attributes without your input. For many companies, simply participating, responding, and acknowledging the conversation—and making real efforts to change—will not only bolster the company’s reputation but also will assist in finding new ambassadors to say great things about the brand.
Your customers are speaking, and they are asking: “Can you hear me now?”
This is your chance to get into the game.
Let’s get started!