I rarely make a major purchasing decision anymore without first sourcing it in my social networks. Even minor decisions like where to eat sushi for lunch are made better when I first check with friends on Facebook. Social business sourcing helps me make better decisions, which saves me time and money.
What role did traditional marketing play in my decision to follow my friends' advice and eat lunch at Hiroba Sushi last week? I think very little. The only reason people in my network recommended this place in response to my direct inquiry was they had eaten there themselves and knew the business was a winner. It was operational excellence, not saavy marketing, which led me to spend $48 for lunch that day.
When asked, my friends volunteered to publically put their brand on Hiroba’s brand and trusted that Hiroba would not disappoint. My social network connections did not put their faith in Hiroba, because faith is a belief in something you have not seen. Trust, on the other hand, is a prediction based on experience, and they all knew from personal experience that I too would probably enjoy Hiroba as much as they did.
They were right, and I was glad I asked.
People talk about your business, which is nothing new. What is new is the way they talk about you and your business, and the speed with which what they say about you can reach many more people than ever before and impact your revenue stream. For years I taught the marketing principle that a dissatisfied customer would likely tell around 20 people about the bad experience. Now, a pissed off customer can quickly and easily share their bad experience with thousands via their connected web of social networks.
The new realities of social business make the basics of business excellence more important than ever before. If you have not designed a system to consistently impress your employees and enable them to in turn consistently impress your customers, you are making a serious strategic mistake.
The most important social business metrics are not things like fans, followers, reach, likes or leads. The most important metrics for businesses that want to fully leverage the strategic potential of social business are employee and customer satisfaction. What they say about you in their increasingly connected social networks is shareable and trusted, and that makes it more important than anything you will ever say about yourself. If you've made their satisfaction merely an act of faith, you better be prepared for social business hell.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!