Good Social Business

February 4, 2011

I recently sat through a 90 minute presentation on “internet marketing.” As is typical of most of these presentations, it was primarily about how to get your website found by Google via proper use of SEO, keywords, coding, etc. I find it alarming that so many small business people still think the main reason they need to pay attention to social media is to “get found”. It’s not.

If your business is not remarkable, it’s dispensable. You should worry less about getting found and more about providing unique and exceptional value to everyone you and your business comes in contact with – suppliers, employees, and customers.

If you are good to those that supply your business, those that work in your business, and those that use your products and services, they will be good for you. They will say good things about you and your business because you earned it. Delighted suppliers, employees and customers will recommend you to their networks of friends and family and their free word-of-mouth marketing will do for you things your paid advertising cannot.

But if you treat anyone in your value chain like crap, they will say bad things about you and like it or not, you earned it. As customers and employees rapidly become increasingly connected and social, the word about you and your business – good and bad – spreads faster and farther than ever before. This is an incredible opportunity for business owners that grasp this principle and a serious threat to those that don’t.

When I find you and your business, be prepared for me to talk about you. Make sure you understand very clearly the variety of places where opinions about your business could be posted, and be an active participant (contribute value, not spam) in those networks. If you are really smart, you will encourage your delighted employees to be active participants on those networks also. If I say something bad about your business, apologize and address my complaint as quickly as possible. Never make excuses!

If I say something good about your business, do not neglect to thank me. Yesterday, I wrote about a positive experience I had with Red Lion Hotels. Their Director of Brand Services posted a response to my blog less than 6 hours after I published it. They are listening and responding, and I’m impressed. Last night I shared this story with 35 MBA students. I’m sure that over time I will share it with hundreds of students in my classes and business people in my community – Red Lion earned it.

Good social business is about impressive operations, not impressive advertising. Your brand is less what you say it is on your fancy website and more what I say it is to my friends and family after I’ve spent my valuable time and my hard earned money on your products and services. Never forget that.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Drew Hawkins says:

    This is very true. Good marketing begins with a good product and customer experience. Traditional advertising – if your service is lacking – can only put lipstick on a pig for so long.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Lipstick on a pig – could not have said it better. Thanks, Drew! Bret

  2. Anthony Marcin says:

    I did something similar (using twitter) with Dish network and they where very responsive. It’s great to see companies are listing to their customers in the electronic world. It will in the end earn them brand loyalty.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Twitter rocks. Anytime I have a complaint I go to Twitter before I go to the phone. I’ve gotten the best services in years via Twitter. Thanks for sharing! Bret

  3. Bret,
    I could not have said it better! Small businesses are so busy running their business that they often turn to charlatan marketers who sell them a bill of goods that are largely ineffective for the small businesses. SEO, rather than effective social media marketing, is one of the biggest offenders. Businesses forget to go with the tried and true methods of being real and understanding and showing their true value (what makes them remarkable). If they can do that…others will tell their story.

    Thanks again for a great post!

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Very true Sharon, there are a ton of charlatan marketers out their and many small business folks don’t know better. To a large degree, it’s their own fault, but they are certainly taken advantage of. Thanks! Bret

  4. Brad Harmon says:

    Your Red Lion example is great, Bret. That’s a company that gets it. I’m surprised by how many small businesses jump into social media and use it as a megaphone without ever listening. Paying attention to SEO is important, but listening to your target audience is infinitely more so.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Brad. Could not agree more. Got to give them something good to talk about if they ever do find your business. If they find your business and you piss them off, these days, you were better off not found. Thanks! Bret