Social Media For Business

February 24, 2011

Scott McKain broke down the original use of the words “social” and “media” and arrived at the idea that social media is a means of communicating with those friends with whom you are allied. I like that, so I extended his original thoughts to define social media for business as:

Means of communicating with those friends with whom you are allied to continuously improve and grow your business.

Your business can’t grow without strong, loyal alliances. Social business goes beyond attempts to “friend” customers by embracing the reality that your employees and suppliers are also increasingly social, so your relationships with them are more critical than ever.

You are not entitled to alliances – you have to earn them over time. The best way to earn an ally is to first be one. If you want people to care about your business, your business has to care about them. That means you need to care about them.

Because your customers, employees, and suppliers are increasingly social, the good and bad news about you and your business spreads faster, farther, and has greater impact than ever before. If you shine, you will build a powerful community that wants your business to thrive, but if you suck, there is no place to hide.

New media – Twitter, Facebook, blogs – are tools that serve the alliance. Use the tools to strengthen your existing relationships and extend your alliances to new people and new places. Remember, the relationships are always personal, so make sure you really care first, and then use the tools to help you support and spread your sincere intentions.

Everyone is talking, and you can’t stop it. You need to come to grips with the fact that you earned everything they say about you- the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly. If you don’t like what they are saying, you need to give them a reason to say better things.

The new tools of social media in the hands of your delighted employees, suppliers, and customers represent a fundamental shift in the strategic landscape for your business. Social media for business is much more than marketing. It’s still very early, but if you continue sleeping through this paradigm shift, you are going to miss a tremendous opportunity.

Related Posts:

The Social Capital Of Relationships, Reputation, And Trust

Social Media Etiquette

About the Author:

Comments (12)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jesse says:

    Perhaps the most difficult thing for a business to do is to allow users to vent or give bad reviews. I find that businesses desire to control and give the best face possible. They typically sanitize (delete) any thing negative and you are left with only glowing reviews. It feels like Disney where everything is sanitized and packaged, but you know it is only a facade. Your negative user probably has a valid point. Fix the problem instead of ignoring it and deleting their feedback. You might just change their mind and they will change their feedback.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Deleting the comments won’t make the cause of the comments go away. Totally concur, Jesse, that fixing the problem is solution. Thanks! Bret!

    Erin Wootan Reply:

    I think it is a serious detriment to your business to delete negative feedback from your social media sites. Instead, negativity should be used as a platform to show your customers that you care and that you will respond to problems and work hard to fix them! Being able to view and respond to complaints and critical feedback should be viewed as a blessing, rather than as a black eye on your business.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Erin! I totally agree. A business should convene the conversation, not control it. Thanks, Bret

  2. We seem to be in an age of entitlement that in reality, is all illusion. I think I would rather hold out for something authentic.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Miriam. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Bret

  3. Beth says:

    This post put me in mind of a cheery little article I read recently in the Wall Street Journal (Feb 9th issue) titled Fast Way to Gripe About (or Praise) Service. It introduced, a new free website and mobile app that encourages its users to rate discrete customer service experiences unilaterally, thumbs up or thumbs down.

    The most ominous side to this story for me was this: encourages posts about specific people by name, as well as specific locations, within an organization — e.g. “Chris at the Chelmsford, Ct. Burger Shack was rude to me when he took my lunch order at 12:30 today.”

    Of note: this site is exclusively for service quality evaluations. It doesn’t matter if the Burger Shack makes a great burger, keeps a spotless dining room, has miles of free parking or offers a two-for-one promotion on Tuesdays. Individual customer service is the only thing being mentioned or measured.

    Yes, allows good service gushing, too, but from my experience I bet the ratio is at least ten to one in the other direction.

    Given that this is a mobile app, and there is no way to hit delete or post retractions after the fact, I fear there might be a certain bias toward impulsive vindictive venting, too. All told, this new dimension of consumer feedback that might have an effect on corporate reputations that is the equivalent of road rage meets Facebook bullying.

    Those of us in service industries (and who exactly is excluded from that description?) might be well advised to increase our efforts to about train, empower, and incentivize our client-facing troops to consistently reflect the brand image that we want the public to see… and the service excellence that the public now has even more precise ways to publicly gripe about, should it fall short of their expectations.

    Swimming into the theme of Bret’s next post now: If I Were Your Competitor, I would certainly be going for the glowing virtual roses on a site like… and gloating over your virtual rotten tomatoes.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Ouch! I will have to check out Tello! Bret

  4. Haipin Cua says:

    Hi Bret,

    I don’t know how many times in a day that, through social media, I get to hear about how companies like AT&T, Charter, and many others are doing a terrible job of serving their customers. I for one am glad that through the power of social media, I get to find out about a company (good and bad things), without having the need to seek the information. Thanks for the article.


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Haipin. There is increasingly no place to hide for those that do bad business. I like it that way. Thanks! Bret

  5. Excellent blog. “Use the tools to strengthen your existing relationships and extend your alliances to new people and new places” is a concept particularly important for my specialty. I will be actively practicing and expanding this concept into my research and personal brand.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Tara. We are in the relationship business, and these tools are excellent for relationship building. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Bret