Finally…a better definition of what being social in business really means

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You’ve probably read countless blog posts and articles about how social media has revolutionized the business landscape, how it’s the second coming of Christ, and how it’s the Star Wars Prequel that should’ve been. The one thing lacking from all those posts is a definition of what being social as a business really means. It’s about Facebook. Uhh… sure. It’s about Twitter. Err..kind of. It’s about blogging. Hmm.. that’s just a small piece.

Social isn’t a strategy or just some sales-y buzz word but a mentality. A mentality that says I want to hear what others are saying about me. I want to engage with them. I know that this will not only allow us to be proactive with customer service and branding issues but will show people the kind of company we are. It says that we’re no longer afraid. It says that we will embrace those responses and exploit them.

Here’s where a lot of businesses have it wrong. I think your customers know your company better than you do. Okay sure they don’t know that Nancy never makes a fresh pot of coffee, instead opting to leave the empty one behind, and I’m sure they are blissfully unaware that Barry always leaves 20 seconds remaining on the microwave. But your customers DO have expectations and how maybe you’ve failed to deliver on them.

Before all of this social media stuff, customers had terribly inefficient ways to deliver their message to you. Snail mail inquiries, phone calls and visits to the corporate office would barely even attract the attention of a few people. That has drastically changed. Now a small timely online message has the potential of attracting hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. That is a significant shift in the voice of the customer.

So while the customer experience has changed, the businesses way of thinking hasn’t. So often they strive to be perfect. Perfect service, perfect product. Truth is they can’t be and when they’re not they become afraid of what their customers might say about it. Here’s a news flash: “No business is perfect”. Trying to achieve perfection is like a dog trying to chase and actually catch his tail. Instead you should strive for something more, something real, something different. What kinds of things do you think your customers are saying about you? They ARE talking about you, you know. Learning from them is what being social is all about. It will make your business better, allow you to shift your culture faster, and makes you more 2011 and not 1990. Evolve or die.

Has your place of business developed the social mentality? Besides just registering on Facebook or Twitter have they embraced what listening to your customers can do and understand the power in it? Having just a presence up in the social sphere isn’t good enough. You must understand its potential impact and utilize it to better your business. There’s nothing more powerful than stopping a customer problem before it tarnishes your brand. Because of the power of social media you can then turn that person from a negative brand influencer to a positive one with just a little engagement and customer service. If someone can talk badly about you to hundreds of people isn’t the inverse true as well? Customers should become your powerful allies.

So sure, people can say bad things about you out there. It’s a cruel world. Some customers will never walk away with a positive experience… can’t make everyone happy. The goal is to learn by trying, not burying your head in the sand and pretending no one is saying anything. Eventually there won’t be anything to say about you anymore because … there will be no you. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

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