Happy New Year, y’all! 2014 begins my 10th year of being immersed in the world of social media. I can remember when social media was simply blogs and MySpace. Then Facebook and Twitter came along, and we all began to wonder when companies would begin to notice these amazing tools and what they could help them accomplish.
Finally, around 2008 0r 2009, companies start to pay attention to social media. But in the five or so years since then, the conversation has largely remained focused on the tools themselves. It’s long-overdue that we stop focusing on the tools and start focusing on understanding how and why people are using these tools.
Let’s stop focusing on social media and instead focus on how social media usage by our brand can relate to larger and far more valuable business objectives:
1 – Customer satisfaction
2 – Customer loyalty
3 – Sales
It’s time to elevate the conversation. Actually it’s about 5 years past time to elevate the conversation. We need to stop talking about the tools, and instead focus on the larger business goals that the tools help us reach. For too long social media strategists/agencies and firms have been trying to sell companies on using social media with a tools-oriented argument. Key executives that work within companies that approve marketing budgets don’t speak in terms of tools, they speak in terms of results. A 15% increase in sales in Q3, a 10% reduction in product returns for the year or a 20% reduction in staff turnover.
When we change our conversation to stop focusing on the tools and instead focus on how the tools impact the bottom line, we earn the attention of companies. It sends a completely mixed message to companies when we strategists say that companies need to invest in social media, but we talk about how that investment will lead to increased social media engagement, brand awareness, Likes and comments. We tell companies that social media is important, then speak about that importance in metrics that are totally unimportant to the average company.
So there’s no wonder they aren’t listening. Neither are customers, because we are focused on ways to use social media to turn customers into digital billboards for our brands.
Stop the insanity!
If it’s 2014 and you are just now considering using social media to connect with your customers, I have good and bad news for you:
The bad news is: You’re way behind.
The good news is: Most companies that are using social media suck at it, so you can catch up quickly if you are smart.
It’s not about understanding the tools, it’s about understanding the people that use the tools. That should be your focus in 2014. Tools change but it’s always a good idea to understand who your customers are and how you can create value for them, regardless of the tools they (and you) use.
Pic via Flickr user DigitalLeica