"It is a choice, Wesley, that each of us must face: to remain ordinary, pathetic, beat-down, coasting through a miserable existence, like sheep herded by fate - or you can take control of your own destiny and join us, releasing the caged wolf you have inside." - Sloan, Wanted, Universal Studios (2008)
Soon we will all be able to spend our time blindly, mindlessly, fearlessly on the Web. Government officials who can't balance their own budget have taken up a more difficult, more popular (and visible) challenge - protecting your online persona.These people know that you want 1st class services from your government and lower taxes. And… that you want instant access to information/material that is relevant to you without paying for it.
Boy, you're a tough cookie. Actually, the public outcry over Apple's, Sony's, Google's, Facebook's, recent problems did more to force the companies to look at their policies, their procedures, their programs than the grandstanding Congressional hearings.
You Are Heard
Ordinary people do more damage to the companies than the "irate" class-action lawsuits which will come as sure as night follows day. Just thinking about the two protectors - lawmakers, lawyers - make you agree with Wesley:
"You know, if I wanted to get beat up, I would've stayed in my cubicle!"
With a few exemplary exceptions, too many marketers still approach social media the old-fashioned way.
You know, one-way communication - pitch them to buy the stuff you want to sell - and a sales program that talks at the customer rather than with the customer.
But every time an incident occurs, they do take a harder look at what they're doing, how they're doing it… because you make it known in a very loud, clear, immediate fashion. Social media has changed the entire landscape of customer relations. One of the first things companies are beginning to understand is that Wesley was right when he said, "My job title is account manager. I used to be called an account service representative, but a consultant told us we have to manage our clients, and to not service them. I have a girlfriend who I neither manage or service."
The opportunities and challenges of social media marketing are significant, and they run the gamut. Direct conversational/relationship marketing means that for the first time employees/representatives connect with people first as a human being, then as a customer. Today's more astute, forward-looking marketers see the shift that is taking place with online communities and consumers. They no longer market at consumers. They are beginning to communicate/talk/work with individual and user communities. It's new - for them and you - so sometimes mistakes are made. But they're honest and correctable mistakes.
Social Media Goals for Advertising Campaigns. Source: SmartBrief
To work, both parties have to receive value, otherwise… This isn't as easy as it sounds because no company representative likes to get criticism. No one wants to hear that their child isn't perfect.
But on a planet of seven billion + people, you know you're going to have a negative reaction. If you don't, it means you're standing neutral with no point of view…no reason for folks to stick round. When the stuff hits the fan, people expect a response…not a carefully-worded press release a week later.
Bite Your Nails
Publicists who swear by Twitter often compound the problem by telling the world what they think before they've thought about it… 140 characters can do that to a person. Social media has grown so quickly because it's the DNA in every living thing…the desire to connect with others.
It's the reason there are more than 700 million people on Facebook and more than 150 million Tweets a day.
That doesn't even count the people on Flickr, Yelp, LinkedIn, YouTube and the thousands of other sites.
Bad Experiences - You and probably everyone who spends time on the Web has been embarrassed or offended by some of the stuff that goes up on social media sites. When it happens to companies and brands, you have to remember these are people too and they want - really want - happy customers who help, assist others in their communities.
There are days even the best of us - regardless of our job - agrees with Wesley, "I'm finding it hard to care about anything these days. In fact, the only thing I do care about is the fact that I can't care about anything. Seriously, it worries me."
Reputable companies understand people's concern with privacy and they work to allow folks to share information in the way that they want. And they want it without a lot of added hassles - refreshed log-ins, double passwords, opening door after door because you want it NOW!
Free n' Easy
To get the free stuff and establish the no-cost community relationship, an executive at the recent ad:tech conference reported that 56 percent of the people interviewed wanted the Internet to continue to be subsidized by company marketing.
To deliver personalized and tailored content both individuals have to know more about each other. It turns out that most of the folks might be - just might be - oversharing.
Oversharing - Almost everyone who spends a fair amount of time with social media has lapses where they forget they aren't just sharing information with friends but with virtually the entire world. There's sharing and there's…SHARING!!
The more companies focus their activities on conversations with customers and building the relationship, the better the information the individual receives. We'll give you a hint though, a fake profile just to get something free usually means you get other info you could care less about. It's not about companies using better marketing technology, it's a matter of fundamental psychology and sociology…people relating to people.
To do that, the smart firms, marketers, communicators are trying to bridge the gap so people can tailor the content to their needs. That's not easy and sometimes people mess up. When they do, they know it in an Internet-nanosecond. The last thing any business, organization or individual wants is to have Fox tell them, "You apologize too much."
The successful conversational/relationship marketing efforts are done by people who become part of the lives of the firm's followers and follow back.
They acknowledge the individuals achievements, special events. They handle problems when individuals have product/service issues. They grow their business and brands by being involved in their communities. Networked markets are just beginning to self-organize. The individuals in these markets are better informed, smarter, more demanding. Until now, companies really haven't realized or had the need to converse as "humans." Mass marketing understood demographics, not individuals.
Now that companies are beginning to participate in their networked markets, a lot of "facts" are being thrown out the window. Conversations are taking place, relationships are emerging. Astute people are making strides in an aggressively, cautious fashion because as Fox said, "We don't know how far the ripples of our decisions go."
One thing we do know, however, is that laws and lawsuits don't encourage this to happen.
Consumers expect - and deserve - a deeper level of personalization and service when they interact with companies. And they're getting it… but we've been "trained" by the Internet and we want it now.
That's tough…believe us we know. But this challenge doesn't keep dedicated people up at night.
Bad People Out There
You have to keep in mind that each of the incidents was the result of some unscrupulous person deciding that he/she/they were going to make an easy buck at the company's and your expense.
That's why people who are working to build these relationships can identify with Wesley when he said, "I'm so much the man that I have a standing prescription for medication to control my anxiety attacks." In today's online environment, Mr. X said it best when he said, "You shouldn't send a sheep to kill a wolf." And in today's virtual and real world, we all want what Wesley wanted, "You know there are people, beautiful people, you just wish they could see you in a different setting, a different place."