I’m tired of the ‘social media is like teen sex‘ or ‘digital is like sex in high school‘ utterances. They only refer to the way it may or may not work and the general cluelessness of brands when it comes to social media.
I say this to help brands/corporates. So, here is the all-important, ‘why?’.
1. Much like a blind date, you, as a brand, think you do not know enough about who are going to interact with, online. It’s a fallacy – you can know quite a bit about your blind date (target customer) if you just make an attempt to search adequately online.
2. Your prayer no.1 in a blind date is ‘God, please let the blind date be a hot chick’ (Ladies, please replace chick with something appropriate). Your second prayer when prayer no.1 is observed as being answered would be, ‘I hope I don’t goof up this date with this hot chick’.
For brands online, the first prayer would read, ‘God, please let the customer (prospective or existing) be someone who likes my product/service’, while the second prayer would read, ‘I hope I can engage with this customer online adequately’.
Those 2 prayers are closely linked, in social media. To ensure that a customer, prospective or existing, likes your product or just the product’s messaging, you need to engage with him in an interesting manner, besides getting the product or service right, in the first place.
3. You do get your basics right in a blind date right? Rent a tux and limo (if you are very hopeful of the date) and arrive in style.
As a brand, you’d perhaps want to set your house in order before starting a conversation with customers. Are your owned-media properties online decent enough with adequate information? The website is manageably good? The choice of vehicle (online tool – Twitter…Facebook etc.) is apt enough? Are your customers using those tools? Do your tools look busy enough with the last update in the recent past and not last year?
4. You will goof up your blind date is you talk only about yourself. The hot chick will doze off or walk away. Worse? You carrying a placard that says, ‘I’m the best…XX people say so!’
Lesson? Listen! Listen to what your customers say online and display empathy that you like listening to them. Occasionally, intervene with your messages, only where it is appropriate and not like carrying a placard, oh-so-blatantly.
5. If you have listened adequately and made the right conversation with your hot chick blind date, you stand a strong chance of a good night kiss, when you drop her home.
That kiss is the equivalent of your customer telling his friends how good the conversation and product was!
6. Even better, if you have done everything right, you might – just might – be invited to her place after the good night pecker.
That, my dear brand, is a sale! That is the customer spending his weekend to buy your product, after you’ve impressed him with a subtle sales pitch that you sugar coated so beautifully in the conversation.
7. If you’ve performed well (on all counts, needless to add), the date is going to spend a long time with you…may be, even marry you. Why not…after all, you’ve been a good listener, made interesting conversation and have also ‘performed well’ (good product, I mean), right?
So, enjoy the relationship! It’s a slow and steady process and is as fragile as a human relationship. Nurture and respect your customers, who are getting mighty vocal online.
The best advantage? As a brand, you can practice the equivalent of polygamy (to carry the blind date analogy to its logical, ridiculous extreme). So, rinse and repeat the steps above!
Photo by The Tipping Glass, via Flickr.