Social media exposes many ironies, including the possibility that we are less social because of social media. Remember the days when we used our phone for talking, not typing? And when a friend was someone whom you’d actually recognize if you bumped into her at the grocery store? Following someone, back in the day, was creepy. Now, on social media, you’re doing that person a favor.
It’s time to take social back to its original intent. It stands to reason that social media provides communicators with an extraordinary opportunity to connect with stakeholders at any time, on any platform and with any message. Or so we think, until we unpack this concept. The fact is, your audience is not just there waiting for you on the network when you arrive with your messaging, nor are they necessarily interested in the content you want to send them. The best brands on social media understand this and have a social conscience and cultural awareness on social media. As Chalene Johnson, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, told a packed audience at a recent conference, there’s a three-step process in customer relations: know, like, then trust.
Forget about Business-to-Business or Business-to-Consumer marketing for a moment. Instead, consider Human-to-Human (H2H). If you treat your customers like the humans they are and communicate with them in human ways, you are more likely to succeed on social media. Whether you are tweeting, posting, gramming or snapping, your human customers expect to be educated, enlightened or entertained.
Part of getting through the know-like-trust stage is your IRL activities. That phone I reference earlier? Many a communicator knows that talking to a customer is worth a thousand tweets to that same customer. Having coffee with a customer or just hanging out in the real world with that person is worth more than a hundred Facebook posts. Community events are the cornerstone of your social strategy. There are countless examples of companies giving back to their communities locally and reaping rewards on their triple bottom line, not to mention casting a wider net on social media. Just check out PR News’ just-announced inductees in the CSR Hall of Fame for ideas.
Our customers will come to us to solve a problem, answer a question or entertain them and then they’ll stay with us because they feel connected. To establish that connectedness, you need to give them what they want, when they want it and in a way that is authentic. In other words, human to human.
The second essential social media step is to master one network at a time. The old saw to “fish where the fish are” applies to your social strategy. Despite what your consultant or boss is telling you, maybe you don’t need to be on Snapchat or invest much time on Instagram right now. Your limited time and resources could be best spent mastering Facebook, learning all you can from your audience there and then taking your show on the social media road. Spreading yourself too thin leads to lackluster customer engagement. Better to invest the majority of your time and resources in one social network where most of your stakeholders hang out. Give them all you’ve got in a H2H way. You’ll know when you’re ready to expand.
In summary, practice H2H communication and single-network mastery and there’s no doubt your social media strategy will shine like never before, as will you.
Those are my "2 things to know about social media." What are your 2 things? Please share!
-- Diane Schwartz