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You won’t LIKE what I have to say about social media

What if everything you knew about social media was wrong? For those that are casual observers of social media that statement doesn’t mean a whole lot. For small businesses that have a Facebook page and are hoping to drive sales through it, they might want to read this. To the small percentage of social media practitioners it’s fighting words and to those companies that have invested large sums of money in social media they might want to rethink this year’s goals.

For the past 6+ years I’ve seen a lot of good when it comes to social media. Companies have used it for conversations among customers and casual fans. They have marketed contests and promotions with high a degree of success. They have even found niche type uses for social media like product co-creation and crowd-sourcing. Besides practical use, we have also seen the dawn of social business. As much as I don’t like that term, I do agree that companies need to weave social media into their marketing departments.

What does that mean?

Companies should collaborate and break down the traditional business silos that exist, basically they need to think more like a social broadcasting company.

Absorbing company information, promotions, marketing materials, and topics. Taking these materials and conversing with customers. All this is good stuff but it’s not why I’m posting this…

I’m posting this because everything you knew about social media is wrong! Forget business, forget trying to sell to customers, forget Likes, Posts and Tweets. Social media isn’t about these things. Whatever you do, read this next sentence and tattoo it to your marketing plan.

Social media is about getting something in return for participation.

Don’t fool yourself thinking that it is about anything other than that, it isn’t! All the mumble jumble about conversation, social business, doing good in society and anything else is all garbage. Take Facebook for example… why does a user post something? The reason is because this user is rewarded with likes, shares, comments, and other sorts of referrals. This is almost like a merit badge of approval. I post something great and I get acknowledgement from it. The more acknowledgement, the better I feel about myself and the greater likelihood that I will post more. Please try to prove me wrong – but this theory holds up on every single social media channel. In society we talk to be heard but more importantly we talk to receive acknowledgement. The key questions marketers must ask themselves is what leads a customer to search for a product, service, or brand through social media in the 1st place? The business media might suggest that customers are choosing to interact with a familiar brand solely to feel more connected, but the reality is customers are seeking express benefits from this relationship. That’s right, forget about connections and conversations the only reason why customers want to engage a business through social media is because they want something from the relationship. And when you really think about it this really isn’t far from what we do in the real world. Companies are building social media programs to try to engage their audience. But what they are finding is that shoppers are a fairly pragmatic bunch. If consumers are going to engage with you, they want some tangible value in return for their time (or a personal endorsement). It’s not enough to just show up with content that promotes your goods and services. For the past four years companies have tried to fill this need with giveaways and gift cards.

What customers are really looking for is FLAT-OUT acknowledgement!

The following: – thanks Joe for you comment about our product – good catch Mark on the coupon date expiration – Tom, we didn’t know that you were at the gym everyday this week – Christie, we never knew that women like that shade of blue The companies that give this acknowledgement to customers will be the winners when it comes to social media. So you might be curious about what led me to this conclusion? After four years of helping clients with social media I found out that the biggest gap that existed between companies and customers wasn’t what they were posting or giving away. It was the sheer lack of acknowledgement. My company SPECK Media continued to recommend to clients that they needed to be more involved in the comments on Facebook and the tweets on Twitter. “Respond to each one” we would say. Go overboard when it comes to acknowledgement! Every single personally acknowledgment a client of our made turned into a customer that became an advocate for their business on social media channels.

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