One of the blogs I love reading for its straightforward, no-nonsense approach belongs to Olivier Blanchard (@thebrandbuilder). He’s hella smart, Français, and has just enough of a “don’t make me smack you” edge I can’t help but shake the pompoms for his take on all things business and social.
In a recent blog post, he lamented the fact most brands still are not getting the ‘social’ side of social media.
AdAge this week published this follow-up piece by Matthew Creamer in which data from a study released last month by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute identifies a gap between engagement theory and engagement execution, primarily on Facebook. Evidently, it is easier to strategize about engaging with customers than it is to actually… do it. According to the study, less than 1% of fans of the biggest brands on Facebook actually engage with these brands online.
Brands seem to be under the illusion that being on Facebook with a brand page, countless ‘likes’, and posts flogging another contest or something else with little long-term value are the way to go. This research should cause execs, marketing departments, and the like to give their collective heads a shake and start really thinking about where they want to take their social media strategy for the long-term. Their one-sided marketing broadcast can only survive for so long. Their ability to dazzled by Klout scores supercedes the fundamental need to make people want to connect and engage with the *people* behind the brand. Get your most passionate employees, sales people, tech heads―read: anyone with a passion for your business and what it stands for―out there talking to your customers. This is not rocket science.
Marketing is not an engagement strategy. It’s part of a customer acquisition/retention strategy. It’s part of the sales strategy. But it most definitely is not an engagement strategy. Much like Olivier, I am dismayed (ok, that’s a polite word) when I see brands outsourcing their social media. This is such a huge mistake. Brands need to be on top of what their customers are saying, requesting, complaining about, and sharing. Why would business want to outsource the most direct line (currently) to the customer sentiment to some third party who is charging an obscene amount of money to tell them what customers have already shared with your business (for FREE) across various social networks. Business needs to view this relationship with the deep value and the care it deserves. This begins with owning the ongoing conversations within the social media space. There are simple ways to integrate social media into your current business with your own people. It’s as easy as listening, and interacting with customers the way you would want to be treated. It is not rocket science, but still so few find the simplicity elusive.
If you want to read the complete blog post, you are most welcome to here. It is Bang On. When it comes to social and business, please remember this: Social is not something you do, it’s something you are.
If you were invited to attend a networking event where you could mix and mingle with some of the most powerful people in your industry would you send an emissary or robot in your place? Exactly. Your customers ARE the power brokers. They are the reason you stay in business. Put them (and your employees) at the centre of all you do as a business and seize every opportunity to interact with your power brokers. Your business—longevity, success, and future–depends on it.