Is it better for your business to pursue a competitive strategy where you copy your competitors, or where you force your competitors to copy you? Your customers and employees are embracing the ability to participate in many-to-many conversations via easily accessible tools like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yelp!, blogs, and now Google +. This is a paradigm shift in the way people communicate, and that means it’s a strategic opportunity for businesses willing to fundamentally rethink how they treat and communicate with their customers and employees.
Three years ago, if you gave someone terrible service, they might pick-up the phone and call a friend or two to vent. The damage would probably be limited to a few people and might even be soon forgotten. Today, they go online and vent on Yelp! or Facebook. Those comments you earned are now archived and shareable. When the things your customers and employees say about you online move through trusted networks, they have the power to impact the growth of your business.
Never forget that being good will always be more important for your business than getting found. If your products and services are impressive, or if they suck, the word about your business can spread faster and farther today than three years ago. Many of the customers, employees, and suppliers that touch your business today are increasingly connected and active in social networks. Make it a strategic priority to give every one of them something good to say about you. Hint: if employee and customer satisfaction are not part of your formal business metrics, then it’s not a priority.
Leverage the social connections of your customers and employees and you will create a strategic opportunity for your business that will force your competitors to pursue competitive parity. Ignore or even worse disgust your social customers and employees and you might just be sowing the seeds of demise for your business.
Please take the time to watch this brief video from my recent presentation on social business to the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association. In it, I discuss a few more recommendations I have for businesses that see the opportunity provided by running a social business. After you watch the video, please share your thoughts in the comment section below!