Yesterday, my daughter and I decided we wanted to have sushi for lunch. The problem for us was we’ve never eaten sushi in Reno before, so we had no idea where to go.
Eight years ago I would have opened the phone book and looked under “restaurants” to try to find some sushi joints. The phone book offers little information to help folks decide between any choices they are able to identify. Three years ago I would have done a Google search for “sushi restaurants Reno” which would have simplified identifying options, but done little to help me find the best sushi for lunch in Reno.
At 10:30 am yesterday, I posted the question “who has the best sushi in Reno?” on my Facebook page. By 11:10 am, I had ten separate responses, and my daughter and I were off to eat at Hiroba Sushi, which was recommended by six of those first ten friends that responded to my question. Five more responses came in after we had already left for the restaurant, and all recommended Hiroba. My Facebook friends were right, Hiroba Sushi was a home run.
I think it’s important to note that without the word-of-mouth marketing of Facebook, I would never have selected Hiroba. They do have a Facebook Fan page, but I search Google, not Facebook, and Hiroba does not have an active website for Google to index and rank. The only sushi bars with decent websites are The Atlantis and Sushi Moto, so pre-Facebook I probably would have selected one of these sushi bars for lunch yesterday.
I am not a big fan of Facebook, but I’ve found it to be a terrific tool for social business sourcing, which is different than searching. If I’m looking for a local business recommendation (e.g. dining, car repair, plumber, church, barber), there is no better source of information than my network of friends on Facebook.
Many if not most of your customers, employees, and suppliers are on Facebook. Are they impressed enough with you and your business that they would put their brand on your brand and recommend you publicly?
If you have reduced Facebook and other social sites to creating a fan page that you try to get people to “like” I think you’ve missed a big part of the picture. Strategic social business is increasingly about leveraging your customers, suppliers, and employees as agents for your brand. Recruit, equip, and encourage these folks to listen for opportunities (e.g. requests for recommendations) as well as threats (e.g. complaints about your business or compliments for your competition) and find ways to reward them when they respond on your behalf.
Strategic social business is so much more than social media marketing.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!