In the business model of 2000, the goal was to gain more customers, assign them a customer number and watch them walk through the customer life cycle. With the rules of free enterprise changing rapidly, assigning customer numbers isn’t going to get your business into the business 2010 era.
Social Media is changing everything. In my previous article “Breadcrumbs to Business Growth,” I outlined the digital media journey of local coffee house Tuscan Sun Coffee. Typing in the keywords “Tuscan Sun Coffee Tallahassee” into Google search, I was able to see what the web said about that business. (The little hamsters upstairs should start running a little faster from here on out.)
Let’s look at Social Media from a different angle. Say I am a Public Relations Manager for a local business that is trying to keep up with the times and I regularly do a Google search of the name of my business. Google has been indexing the “status updates” on various Social Media sites for some time now. If someone has a good or bad experience related to their visit to my business and they “tweet” or “status update” about that experience, it will show up on a Google search. If they name my business specifically, their comment will be a clickable link. (You might want to Google search your business right now and look through every page just in case.)
Remember the “Comment Card” box? Imagine your comment cards being posted on the web. Would that be a good thing or not? How would you handle a less than satisfactory experience if someone completed a comment card and dropped it in the box? You should treat a Social Media comment with the same level of attention as you would a card dropped in the little black box labeled “Comments.”
Many national companies are listening to what the avatars (a small icon representing the user profile of a given social media) are saying. I have read article after article of companies like Blackberry, Target, and Starbucks replying to comments left on Facebook and/or Twitter from people who had a negative experience with their product or service. Often, the solution to the problem turns a negative complaint into a loyal fan telling their “friends” and “followers” about how the company redeemed its reputation. The digital voice of a loyal avatar is the new word of mouth.
Here’s the point: 1000 loyal avatars equals 10,000 tribe members (a new kind of customer number)!
What if your business doesn’t listen to the “tweets” and/or “status updates?” I guess you better get a bigger comment card box so that you will have something to pack up your desk with when they decide to bring in the new PR director who understands Social Media and why status updates matter.
By the way, did you ever think to do a search on your competitor to see what people are saying about them? If they are smart, they already did one on your business and are thinking creatively on how to capitalize on your area of weakness.