We live in a time where the line between private and public is ambiguous, where human connections, not business ones propel companies towards being “social”.
Consumers aren’t passive anymore. We fast forward through TV commercials, turn the page on print ads and tune into free internet radio, podcasts and iTunes to enjoy our diversions ad-free.
And our game isn’t just defensive. We are quick to hop onto Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to share our buying experiences with friends and competitors.
Social media is forcing companies to be responsive to their clients.
This isn’t new. It’s just that it’s been around a century since customers have been treated as neighbours; as part of the community.
“So nice of you to make a house call.”
Here are three things to remember as you embark on your goal to make your company social:
1. Social media isn’t just about marketing.
The tools that we’re all familiar with, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ not only affects how we communicate (the medium) but influences what we communicate (the message).
Once fully integrated into the company, social media facilitates recruitment, customer service, internal collaboration, external crowd sourcing. In other words, the company opens up becomes social.
2. You can’t be social if you can’t communicate.
Social media encourages creativity by facilitating the exchange of ideas. There are many platforms like Facebook secret groups, or Google+ circles that provide easy ways to have “closed” collaborations. it could be as simple as sharing updates on schedule and menu changes to planning a new company website or social media marketing campaign.
Note: If you’re serious about being social, make sure you hire people that are.
3. It’s a marathon not a sprint.
A company doesn’t transform itself into a “social business” overnight. It begins with setting goals, building a strategy and measuring progress.
It requires listening and participating. It takes patience. Staff need to be trained and engaged, tools tried and tweaked, strategies executed.
If your company is already successful, you probably already have a good communication system in place. Chances are you listen to your clients. Social media will amplify your success and by increasing your “social-ness”, increase your success.
If your company is struggling, using social media, especially as just another advertising platform, won’t turn things around. With guidance and direction however, you can use those tools to integrate social into all aspects of your business. This in turn, will encourage communication and build trust and loyalty inside and outside your company. Your company will be more social and successful.
Ray Hiltz is a Google Plus Specialist and Social Media Strategist helping small businesses establish their brands and build their communities on the social web.
A strong proponent for the power of collaborative communication and "humanized" digital networking, Ray writes about social media, social business and Google Plus.
His clients include hotels, restaurants, consulting firms, entrepreneurs, writers and individuals just trying to make sense of "social".
Ray is a popular speaker on Social Media, Social Business and Google+.