The real fear isn’t social media; it’s real-time communication.

The past few years have been all digital and social all the time. Traditional methods of push marketing have fallen out of favor to cross channel marketing programs that concentrate on helping consumers find companies. It turns out tried and true methods of communicating at consumers — surprise! — offer them little to no value.

Inbound marketing is a vastly different way of marketing and one a lot of professionals and companies fear for a litany of reasons.

Social media means talking with customers, not at them.
In Why Companies Are Afraid to Use Social MediaJason Falls and Erik Deckers get into reasons companies opt to give social media the hand rather than incorporate it into their annual marketing plan. But whether the resistance is to Facebook (What if people post negative comments?), to Twitter (Who uses that anyway?) or to Foursquare (Is that some kind of tracking device?) those are just vehicles.

The heart of problem is tricky. Social media is in effect direct, real-time communication with customers.

No one likes to belabor mistakes.
Let’s face it. Having someone call out a mistake, bad service at a restaurant or a cruddy experience with someone at your company is not fun. In the past, you might have never known about it. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Real time communication with customers gives you a chance at service recovery. You have an open communication line with customers. I really can’t think of anything more valuable than that in a marketing plan.

Blocking bad comments means blocking out good ones, too.
One of my favorite stories is once working with a client who locked down their Facebook page. No comments, no posting by anyone who was not an administrator. When the day came that they finally allowed comments to appear on their page, I held my breath. Within hours they got their first wall post — from a mother preparing to celebrate her child’s third birthday later that week. She commented that she always thought of the hospital’s NICU personnel who helped the family in those first scary days and simply thanked them for everything they did three years ago.

You have an opportunity — take it.
To know exactly what your customers like, think and feel is one of the biggest opportunities to ever hit marketing. Take a look at your marketing plan. Do you have an open link with your customers and prospects? If you don’t, make it a priority. Those direct conversations may lead to new insights or an emerging competitive edge for your brand or company.

Not a bad start, after all.

This entry was written by Julie Turner, posted on July 25, 2012 at 1:42 pm, filed under Consumer Behavior, Cross-Channel, Interactive, Offerings, R-blog, Social Consciousness, Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

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