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31 August  2009 ~

Social Media is Here to Stay and Here’s Why… I have been speaking to large numbers of CEO’s and other senior leadership and one thing stands out – a lack of a clear understanding of what social media represents.   To some it’s simply the new tech tool on the internet, to others, it’s something their kids use, while others are completely befuddled by it.  Unfortunately, with all the hype, the core of social media generally gets overlooked mainly because it is so subtle.  Social Media at its core is just that – “social” plus “media”.  It is a conversation across a variety of new media that have altered the way we communicate.  Put another way, social media is a conversation on steroids.  As business leaders, do we have daily business conversations and do these conversations lead to relationships and can these relationships lead to economic benefit?  The answer is yes, yes, yes and until the day we stop having business conversations, social media will be around, although it will always be in a constantly changing form.

Perhaps the best way to review this is through questions we’ve received.

Is there a right way and wrong way to “converse”?

There are no “right ways” but there are a lot of wrong ways.  For instance, if you and I were conversing and I stopped talking, what would you do?  Probably walk away, right?  Same thing in social media.  If you begin to engage your customers, prospects, etc, and then all of sudden stop communicating with them, the odds are they will simply walk away.  This is very bad considering these are the very people that are most interested in your business and now they’ve moved away from you.  What to do?  Here’s a simple strategy – set a social media participation schedule that you can keep up (i.e. 15 minutes per day or what you can handle) and stick to it!  This way you will be able to sustain your conversations with those that matter most to your business.

We are not generating sales yet we are participating, what’s wrong?

Lets answer this question with a question – In your non social media tactics, are you focused on a hard sell and not relationship building?  Basically, do you just talk to people to see if they want to buy something from you without having a relationship with you first?  Probably not, right?

Yet that is what some business leaders are inadvertently doing with social media.  They are simply trying to “sell” without establishing a relationship first.  In terms of the buying cycle, they are expecting social media to be a magic pill that attracts late stage buyers without relationships, and expect them to immediately make purchases.   However, no relationship = no purchase potential.   This is no different than what we face in real life.  Businesses spend vast amounts of money to build relationships through branding, customer relations, etc and then over time, those relationships convert to sales.  Interestingly, the spot that social media is very powerful is in connecting with early and mid stage buyers and building exponential amounts of relationships.

I can’t participate because my customers aren’t on social media.

Well, that can be true, but typically businesses have more than one type of customer.  Perhaps the end customer is not on social media, but perhaps a referral sources or connector is.  Alter your thinking slightly, wouldn’t it make sense to build social media relationships with those “customers” vs then ultimate end user?
I am worried about customer reaction and it spreading negatively on the web, so I don’t participate.
Well, the bad news is that it is not up to you whether you want to participate or not.  In a recent study conducted by Edleman, they stated that roughly 6 out of 10 people between 25-64 were willing to share their experiences on the web and roughly 8 out of 10 people in those same age brackets, trusted their peer’s recommendations.   For a case in point, let’s look at the viral video, United Breaks Guitars. It is a little ditty about how United broke one guy’s guitar and then didn’t remedy the situation.  Well he shared his story on the web and received about 5 million hits in the first 6 weeks.  If you do the math on the length of his video along with all those views, it equates to roughly 44 MILLION negative 30 second commercials against United. (Granted not everyone watches it from beginning to end but this is the extreme to show a point).  Now no matter what United does now, it will be extremely difficult to undo all that negative attention.  The only strategy here should have been a proactive one and to address all customer issues from the start.

We can talk about this for 3 hours (and we usually do during our presentations) but let’s turn it back to you and hear your perspectives.  The key takeaway here is that social media at its core is about a “conversation” and we have hundreds of those in our businesses daily.  The challenge is to determine how to leverage social media tools to plug into online conversations and relationship build.

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  1. Hi there,

    these thoughts are valid but a little outdated. Of the business owners I speak to, many now have a LinkedIn or Plaxo profile and understand that this is social media, plus obviously that they are using it, as opposed to just their kids.

    Social Media is here to stay as it enables the scaling of CRM or relationship management. This can feed through to all areas of the business and represents the core value of social marketing- there is always a use for it, whatever the company.

    Comment by Al Williams September 15, 2009 @ 6:45 am
  2. Great post and right on point. I am passing this along. Must read for anyone involved in Sales or Corporate Communications.

    Comment by Rich Johnson September 16, 2009 @ 10:30 am
  3. I would write excatly the same – tks for doing the homework for me. And the funny thing is that. I am from Brazil – we are using the socialmedia quite a lot down here, we’ve just come out from Digital Age 2.0 (Third Edition) and the feelings that remain are pretty the same. That the Social media came to stay, there is no doubt. But, how and how intrapeneurs will make money upon it, within it, beyond it or besides it – that’s the big deal! To you, to me and to big shots that are – from Edelman, B-M and all the Big PR Companies very well trained not to say anything about it (but certainly this is THE big issue). Because still there is a lot to understand and to learn about how to gain results from it – more than visibility and credibility. Congrats!

    Comment by Vany Laubé September 16, 2009 @ 10:39 am
  4. […] his blog “CFO Strategist“, Chris Muccio sums up why Social Media is here to stay and why you should embrace it.  […]

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