Every time I’m in front of an audience I ask two questions:
1. How many of you have some social media involvement? (Almost everyone raises their hands.)
2. How many of you wish you were better at it? (Almost everyone raises their hands.)
And keep in mind this is from a (supposedly) sophisticated group of people. They all have smart phones, most of them get personal Facebook notices on their phones, but for one reason or another they have chosen not to enter the world of business social media. Many are on LinkedIn and have a few connections, almost none of them tweet and even fewer have their own YouTube channel.
What’s your social media status?
Reality: Some huge companies have gone all out in social media, while others have their heads buried in the sand or are playing "me too," because they woke up one morning and found their competition gaining ground through a prominent and active social media presence. Still others are claiming “regulations” are keeping them from engaging.
Here are a few examples of big companies taking advantage of business social media:
• Starbucks is asking customers' opinions and soliciting customers' ideas (where do you think the idea for that little green stopper splash stick came from?).
• The CEO of Sun Microsystems blogs daily.
• Burger King is continuing to let customers “have it their way” online with information and coupons.
• IBM is utilizing every aspect of social media and has plans to double its effort in 2011 by trusting and encouraging its employees involved on a personal-business level to their individual customers.
• Proctor & Gamble is all about Facebook and is substituting TV ads for social media presence. (Wow!)
• Ford is using social media as a PR communication device and consumer sounding board and feedback opportunity.
• Comcast is tweeting individualized customer service help messages.
• And as if they weren’t customer service dominant enough, Zappos tweets its service responses and as a result receives thousands of positive tweets.
All of these companies, B2B or B2C, emphasize the same word in their philosophy and their outreach: community. They all recognize that their customers have a voice, and by listening and responding to them, they’re discovering benefit and profit.
These are not isolated examples – they are typical examples of how big business is using the power of social media to inform, communicate, serve and sell.
How are you doing? What’s your “community” strategy? Who are you listening to? Who are you responding to? Or are you still answering your phone and “serving me better” with nine options? Pathetic.
Here are 6.5 tough questions designed to make you think, plan and act:
1. What are you doing about the social media opportunity?
2. How are you attracting customers and prospects?
3. What’s your value message beyond product offerings?