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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
How will you engage with customers in 2009? Will you consider social media to build bridges [or a snowman] with them?
I love how practical social media is. It's the ideal tool - assuming you've thought through your business strategy - for marketing, communicating and cooperating effectively with your audience.
It's ideal because it's readily available without your being dependent on an expensive outside resource to make something happen.
It's also ideal because it allows your humanity to shine, which lets your customers know that you aren't a cold facade, but rather a live person who cares passionately about your customers' experience. [For more perspective, read Peter Kim's Social Media Predictions 2009 and download a copy of the predictions/perspectives he received from 14 prominent thinkers. Note how often 'real people' come up with respect to customer service.]
On the flip side, it means you can't just delegate the project to an outside resource. You need to be personally involved. You have to get your hands dirty and be committed to that effort for the duration.
Does that seem intimidating? It shouldn't. After all, isn't that why you are in business? For the duration?
And, if you're serious about your business, you've already put thought into who you're trying to reach, what you want that audience to know about you and how to offer them value. Right? In fact, you're probably passionate about talking to and delighting your customers. You want them involved.
The new Web 2.0 marketing tools help communicate how you delight and bring value in ways that the old tools don't. How? Because they allow you to connect directly with those customers to whom you are relevant. But, they take time to establish themselves.
So, why not start now with social media? Why not start experimenting and developing a voice? Make it a 2009 resolution.
For inspiration, read this Dell Small business profile: Masi Bicycles interview with Tim Jackson from Masi Bicycles who writes the Masi Guy blog. Tim has created something amazing with Masi Guy - from scratch.
Another source of wisdom is The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World from The Wall Street Journal [done in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management Review]. Based on 30 interviews with professionals from large and small organizations who are experimenting with social media, it lists "a set of emerging principles for marketing."
These principles include:
1. "Don't just talk at consumers -- work with them throughout the marketing process."
2. "Give consumers a reason to participate."
3. "Listen to -- and join -- the conversation outside your site."
4. "Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell."
5. "Don't control, let it go."
6. "Find a 'marketing technopologist'."
7. "Embrace experimentation."
As you read it, think back on Tim Jackson and explore Masi Guy.
For additional perspective, read David Churbuck's Triage for tough times - The Dour Marketer.
Finally, do read Social Media Series: Bridging New & Old where thought leaders like Mack Collier, Ann Handley, and Steve Woodruff - with many more to come in 2009 - share their wisdom about social bridge building to the future.
I wish you boundless success in 2009 with endless opportunities to experiment and learn as you engage with customers.
Thank you so much for reading and participating in this adventure!