To all the businesses out there in the world – this is an open letter to you. And why sometimes you all absolutely suck at using social media. And your customers hate you for it.
There is a pit that you fall into (beware the spikes) because you’re so involved in your own world. Twitter and Facebook are not new things – and it isn’t some secret that companies use them to promote various products or clients. Don’t think you can out-think your customers – especially not those who are in Gen Y or younger. They probably know the ins and outs of social media better than your 40 year old social media guru who tells you that you need to run more Facebook ads. I couldn’t give you a hard and fast number, but there have been results that Facebook ads result in less than a .5% return.
Social media is not traditional advertising on a new platform. It’s networking with your customers in an environment that is inherently, well..social. And if that isn’t something you can grasp, maybe you shouldn’t be on social media at all.
If you do use Facebook or Twitter to promote an affiliate or a new product or what have you on your blog or your Twitter feed or your Facebook account, take a page from personal bloggers. Be transparent about it. If you recognize the intelligence of your audience and admit to what you are doing, at least they will (or at least a good deal of your audience) will respect you for being upfront. I’d rather be completely transparent and keep customers than lose customers because they’re offended that you don’t admit to something that seems so obvious to them.
Likely they can see right through your ‘sneaky’ post on Facebook that is a ‘casual real-person’ promotion for a project. They know. And it starts to offend your customers. You think they’re stupid. And they’ll stop buying your products, or recommending your restaurant to friends, or using your product.
Many businesses can go to the other extreme of not-knowing-how-to-use-social-media and will use their social media platforms simply to push discounts and deals or their new product line. Fine, hey, that’s great every once in a while – we all love a good discount – but people these days are conditioned to ignore that kind of advertising, treat it as white noise.
So your social media platforms will become just another set of white noise.
Really leveraging social media is something that is a beast to do – simply because you need to constantly engage with your audience, listen and actively respond, and even take what you hear on all the social media channels to your business structure.
To end on the note of a company that does social media well – and uses it quite impressively, take a look at Morton’s Steakhouse. Recently, a loyal Morton’s Steakhouse customer (who happens to also be a CEO and have something around 10K followers on Twitter) jokingly sent a tweet – as he was not going to have the time to get food after his flight – to Morton’s asking for someone to meet him at his arrival airport with a steak in hand.
And you know what, 2 hours later, they did.
Legitimately, that is one of the most impressive uses of social media I have ever seen. Strive to do that with your social media networks – the level of engagement is ridiculously impressive – and you are on your way to using social media the right was as a business.