When people talk about social media achievements, they often think about viral successes, like the Old Spice campaign, or the United Airlines-type of social media fails. But having a relevant social media activity rarely translates into getting that much visibility over a short period of time. While it has become mandatory for businesses to develop an online presence, you shouldn’t expect your actions to bring your company massive spikes in coverage, because social is basically an extension of the values your brand already entails.
Even if they do mean a totally different way of talking to people and sending out your message, it would be a mistake to forget that social channels are, simply put, another dimension of your reputation. And that brilliant campaign idea will only come after you’ve pursued all the other down-to-earth, mediocre ideas. After you’ve carefully studied how people use your product. “Overnight success” is usually determined by years of failures.
Often times, being in social media is not about one amazingly successful (and cheap) social media campaign that got sales through the roof, but rather about creating social media policies, finding influencers and performing social media audits.
Social media changed the way companies interact with clients by transforming interruption into invitation. To illustrate this, let’s look at customer support: an organization’s usual channels of identifying and solving issues (phone, email) can be easily improved by using social communities to respond to inquiries and complaints right after they’re posted online (which results in better response times), in the exact place where customers are having these conversations. That’s meeting their needs in a familiar space and also creating the possibility that in the future, issues would be solved by other members of the community who are acquainted with the problems, resulting in a better overall experience. This is what we call thinking outside the call center paradigm.
“You don’t manage your customers, your customers manage you. The mindset that you can control what people are doing is clearly bogus.“- Seth Godin
Another important section of your overall business strategy that can be improves by social media is marketing. However, this does not mean you should use these channels like broadcasting tools, but rather think of yourself as a publisher trying to sell content. That makes you a journalist and a branding expert at the same time. Content is one thing, but the way you deliver that content to your audience is another part of your daily job. Just as social media has given power to the customers and made every single one of them significant, storytelling can now be done in tons of different ways, from text to infographics, from videos to augmented reality.
So, if you can’t create success out of thin air, what’s the point of even bothering with social media? These last few years stand as proof of the fact that online media isn’t just a hype, but a business reality. The best way to go with it is not striving for success at all costs, but building a coherent social conduit. Using the right tools, you can now map entire conversation patterns using real-time metrics, sort out influential players in your industry, instantly thank someone who endorsed your product or solve an issue that can’t wait until someone finally picks up the phone in the support department. It’s the best way to become a social media superhero and unleash the power of your brand as a living entity that changes with its community.