It’s easy to see how so many companies simply don’t understand social media. Working with some larger ecommerce websites on a regular basis, you’d be surprised and how clueless even the big boys can be. That’s why I was encouraged when I recently came across an article about how One Click Ventures made the decision to feature photos of their social media staff on the social services that the E-Retailer uses. This is exactly what many companies should do.
Overcoming the Reluctance to Get Personal
Unfortunately most companies are reluctant to interact with their customers on a personal level and to be successful in social media, this aversion must be overcome. Here are just a few reasons off the top of my head why:
Social Media is Social – By definition it focuses on interactions between people. Therefore an individual or company using social media must at least integrate the behavior of real people into their use. Conversation, sharing and discussing a variety of topics is what people do. KLM interacts with passengers regularly on Facebook.
Differentiation – There are thousands if not millions of businesses attempting to use social media to build stronger relationships, but many are doing it wrong. Companies that are comfortable with direct customer interaction can quickly differentiate themselves from the sea of competitors. Southwest Airlines does a good job on Twitter.
Blatant Self Promotion = Noise – Most companies use social media for a business purpose, so social media users generally accept that some level of self-promotion will occur. However a constant does of one-way communication focused on products will alienate users, forcing them to filter those users. Limiting self-promotion and injecting some humanity into a social media program is among the best ways to find the proper balance between promotion and value.
In conclusion, I think that many companies are reluctant to get personal because they feel that there is a high likelihood that they’ll make a mistake that will result in poor publicity. While understandable, I feel that if social media has been selected as a component to your marketing plan it should be done well or not at all. And if a mistake is made, don’t worry it’s part of being human.