In a recent meeting, I found myself explaining why social media is important for this particular client. My words were, "There's a conversation happening about your company. Whether or not you choose to be a part of it, whether you choose to harness the opportunity to interact with your customers, is up to you."
Since that meeting, I've had some time to really think about what this statement means - not just for that client, but for all companies and organizations. Once you're in the public eye, once your brand or name is known, a new level of conversation can be attained. Instead of simply saying "Here's our website - enjoy!", it makes sense, especially in today's culture, to actually interact with the people who are discussing you. What better way to help create brand loyalty than conversation?
Humans are an interesting lot. We'll go to the same restaurant or coffee shop for years, receiving friendly, reliable service each and every time; we'll come to expect it, take it for granted. Chances are we won't discuss it with others unless someone really goes above and beyond - but what about that one time that our meal isn't perfect or the girl at the counter gets our XL-three-cream-no-sugar order wrong? Then we'll complain about it - it's in our nature - but more likely to our circle of people, not to someone at the place we experienced the bad service.
I asked my client to look at it this way: Imagine you've just opened a new store. Your business is doing well, but you want it to do better. You're at a loss - why aren't people coming back? Why is the customer return rate so low? Here's what you don't know: your bathrooms are always unkempt...and customers are not only turned off, they're telling other people. It's a seemingly small thing, right? Something easily fixed, correct? But what if you don't know?
Okay granted, it's probably a silly example. My point remains the same: without all the information, you're not making educated decisions. If you knew people were talking about your shoddy bathrooms, you'd change them - or at least you'd know that the problem existed to then decide whether or not to act upon it. Being a part of the conversation gives you the opportunity to ask questions ("Wondering if anyone can let us know how we can serve you better!" on Twitter, or an informal post/question on Facebook would do the trick!) and have your customers respond and interact with you.
How does your organization interact with customers/clients? What about with other businesses? I'd love to hear your take on it!