Social media, social marketing, or just plain social: no matter what you call it, social is clearly the new pink, the place everyone wants their company to be at. But for all the attention it gets, brands continue to overlook the underlying reality: you don’t make your business more social by going to Facebook, Twitter and Google+, you make a business that people want more and they in turn go to those channels for you.
Better Experiences = Better Social Footprint
Brands hire people to run social media and then tell them to collect more followers, to incent them to talk more with the promise of a coupon or a contest and to make sure it all has a positive ROI. Not surprisingly brands have a hard time getting much out of their social investment.
As a social strategist I’m use to people calling me and asking how we fix this. How we make them more social, build up the buzz. My response is simple: what are your product managers, customer service agents, and operation teams doing to improve your experience.
Marketing Exists to Channel the Experience, Not Create It
The world is clamoring for our attention as shoppers. Buy this, join that and of course be sure to like / tweet / share it. But no one wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves “I wonder what brand would really like me to share something about them.” Instead we go about our days interacting with literally hundreds of products and services and for all those touchpoints we may talk about one or two.
Becoming those one or two isn’t about slick marketing, great apps or a freebie, it’s about having something so good – or so bad – that it’s worth talking about to you… The barista who remembered your order and gave you a smile on a rough morning; the new laptop that arrived 3 days earlier than expected; and the airline who left you on hold for 30 minutes only to charge you for the call. It’s these exceptional cases that stand out and warrant a comment, a check-in, a rating – marketing can’t make them the experience, marketing can’t buy it.
So instead of making social about marketing, marketing should be able making the company social. Not everyone needs to be on twitter but everyone needs to know what’s being said, experienced, and shared.
Experience is talked about in their world. Not yours.
This is a fundamental paradigm shift — we’ve held the keys and controlled the message and that’s hard to let go. Well get over it. As tempting as it may be to build up your own empire [aka a facebook fan page or twitter account] social doesn’t come from your world, it comes from the individuals: 150 friends, 500 followers, 90 meetup buddies, the individual’s network is where the power is at and one person passing something along to their friends trumps one post to your wall any day.
Rather than putting all of your energy into getting people to post on your wall, shouldn’t you be concerned about if you have created something worthy of being posted on theirs? So what if you can’t measure it as well: it’s not about you, it’s about being social.
Social experiences aren’t limited to social channels
Now that the world has started to accept social as the powerhouse of influence, it’s as if everything else doesn’t matter. Sent a tweet? Here’s a freebie for your trouble. Called up? Here’s the hold music on a 30 minute loop. Social networks are channels, hugely important vessels for interaction and reach, but not the start nor the end of the destination – people don’t buy your Facebook page or plugin your YouTube video. If your experience suffers elsewhere having a better place to hang the dirty laundry won’t fix it; so keep your house in order no matter where people may interact.
Make an excellent product. Rock your service. Overdeliver at every step. That’s how you “win” in the social conversation.