In 2012 we got a glimpse of what social marketing can really do for your business, but success was few and far between. Those that got it right are alien to those that didn't. What was different? What makes one business a social success while others are left questioning the validity of new media altogether? The answer is social culture.
I worked with dozens and dozens of businesses in 2012, some got it right, others not so much. The single biggest differentiating factor is the underlying culture of the business. I'll say this right now, the typical business culture is NOT conducive to social success. What does that mean? It means that the way the vast majority of businesses are currently being ran won't see any success in social media, that is if they don't change their ways!
If leadership isn't willing to institute a social culture into the business, then no amount of tactics, training, money spent or strategy implemented will give them the kind of success that is truly possible through social marketing. How does a business go about implementing a social culture, great question!
Creating a social culture boils down to three things:
- Change how you conduct business
- Change how you talk
- Change how you think
I know that change is scary but the word economy is in a fundamental shift, a shift from a business-ran economy to a more customer-driven one. In order to shift along with the changes, you're going to have to make a change. Business as usual won't cut it.
"Ultimately social media is not about the tools, technology and whiz-bang things. It’s about culture and culture change.” Scott Monty - Head Of Social Media For Ford
Change: Conducting Business
Business must be more transparent, more human and more social. Your customers want to talk about you, they want to say something about what they experienced, it's up to you to determine if what's being said is positive or negative.
Be more open in the way you do business. Allow your customers to see what is going on behind the scenes, interact with them on a personal level. Be human. Remember, people want to do business with people they like, know, and trust. What are you doing to ensure that your customers and future customers like, know, and trust you?
One very important thing to keep in mind is that everybody is a spokesperson, from employees and customers to the larger community as a whole. You must allow your employees to have a voice. I've said it before and I'll say it again:
The biggest difference between traditional marketing and social marketing is that traditional marketing is all about the marketing of the business, while social marketing is all about the marketing of the people of the business.
So, change the way you do business. Be open, influence word-of-mouth and allow your employees to have a voice. Let them lead the charge, go out into the community, whether it's Facebook or Twitter, local charity fundraisers or the Chamber of Commerce. Keep in mind that the more people they meet, the more people they impact, and the more that people like them, the more business you will earn.
Change: The Way You Talk
Your customers want to help, all you have to do is listen to them, they will tell you everything you need to know about attracting and keeping more of them. They expect you to listen, so listen. Talk with them and be social, collaborate with as many customers as possible.
Also, change the way you talk at the office. Don't use any negative descriptive words to describe certain types of customers. Don't pass blame either, only solutions. Be open with one another, be social and become friends. Do things as a team, build each other up and help however, whenever you can.
Talk about success. Talk about creating a more social culture. Keep goals out in the open, talk about them all the time. It's okay to get personal at work, as long as you stay with-in certain boundaries. Connect on Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, get to know each other outside of work. Change the way you talk!
Change: The Way You Think
It's no secret, change is a mindset. In order to implement a culture change you must first implement a cognitive culture, that is you must first change your view on how business is done and how the change will affect the way your business operates. In other words, the businesses of last century (last year) will not be able to conduct business in the same capacity as they did then, if change isn't at the top of their to-do list.
You have to know that the customer comes first. Their experiences matter and how they view the way you conduct business has a big impact on whether or not they talk about you and whether or not that talk is good or bad. I'm not saying that you should change your mission statement because those are just words and aren't enough, I'm talking about changing the way you think and the way you do business.
Here's a little exercise, answer these honestly and reflect:
- "Who" is your business? What makes it human, or not human?
- What do they think about us? (They being your customers)
- Are they the same? Reflect.