Somewhere between the Yugo, Exxon Valdez, cigarettes being addictive and JetBlue stranding hundreds of travels, people became (*gasp*) skeptical of the corporate message. “Best in class”, “experienced”, “satisfaction guaranteed”, “Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!”…ok, maybe not that last one. Consumers would rather make their own judgement about your products and services. The sterile corporate message isn’t working with today’s consumer.
Today, you need to bond with your client. You need to build trust.
People tend to believe their friends and trusted advisors more than corporate advertising. Our friends aren’t airbrushed. Our friends aren’t stick-figured models. Our friends don’t have thousands of beautiful women chasing them down the street just because they used Axe bodywash.
Marketing originally began as word of mouth. In the real world, your world of mouth sphere of influence was typically limited to those who you came in contact with, let’s say 30 people a day. With social media, your sphere of influence has grown exponentially, to thousands, possibly millions. You can tell your friends what you think about a movie, where you found the best price on a new TV, how a cleaning service performed, anything! And, the companies that don’t think that people are talking about them, are just ignoring the revolution.
Today, your customers are blogging about the service they received. They are posting your company’s commercials on YouTube. They are twittering about your new product. They are comparing prices and features online.
In the book, Groundswell, Forrester analysts, Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, defined this phenomenon as “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t participate. Social media can be used to bring you closer to your consumers – hear what they are saying, get their feedback, participate in the communication. Just because you don’t completely control your corporate message, doesn’t mean you can’t influence it.
In the end, it all comes down to trust. If you choose to use social media – and you should – you have to be open. Open to honest communication. Open to criticism. Open to new ideas. In order to be successful in this new game, you can’t bring the same tools or play by the old rules of traditional marketing. The only way to get followers is to give them what they want – they want information they can believe in.
If you are able to earn the trust of your followers, the message amplifies. You will have raving fans. You will have product evangelists. One example I heard from our newly formed social marketing team at work – they had a call with Michael Pranikoff, Director of Emerging Media at PR Newswire, to find out about how we could leverage some of the new social media tools. Michael, an active twitterer, told a story about receiving a notification that someone had posted a tweet about his troubles signing up for PR Newswire online. Michael immediately sent an email to the user explaining the registration process. The user was so shocked to receive a direct message from PR Newswire – in the middle of the night, no less – that he immediately posted it online. He blogged about his great experience. Michael earned his trust, and in turn got a PR Newswire evangelist.
Whether you manage an university alumni group, are an aspiring photographer, work-from-home for a direct marketing company, the uses are endless. Let’s get some raving fans!