“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
― Stephen R. Covey
Social media is often touted as a cheap and accessible form of promotion for small businesses – after all, it’s free and anyone can sign up, right? Yet many businesses owners see no return on investment. Why?
Approaching social media like traditional media forms doesn’t work. In print, television and other traditional media, the conversation is one way. Rather than listening or engaging in conversation, the company talks AT the potential consumer – do this, buy this, use this. Use this strategy in your social media marketing, and you’re dead in the water. The very nature of social media is just that – social. It’s participative. It’s conversational. It’s based on permission. Yes, I will allow you into my inbox, my twitter feed, my Facebook newsfeed.
Today, that is a privilege.
Abuse this permission, start a speech or a monologue rather than a conversation, and all it takes is a single click to say goodbye to a potential consumer. Scott Stratten, president of Unmarketing, notes Recognition, Relevance and Relationship as the key reasons why people stay engaged with companies online. Do I recognize this company, and do I remember signing up to their email updates / following them on Twitter / liking them on Facebook? Do I see their content being relevant to me and not just them? Do I feel a connection to the company?
In the article “If you love something, let it go mobile”, Kaplan categorizes mobile marketings apps into 4 groups, according to the level of consumer knowledge and the trigger of communication. At the top of the food chain are the ‘patrons’ – the company has a high degree of consumer knowledge, and it’s the consumers who are triggering the communication. This is where, as a small (or large, for that matter) business, you want to be. This is the online presence that embodies Recognition, Relevance and Relationship. These is closely entwined with Kaplans concept of the Four I’s – the company is integrated into the consumers life to the point of being recognizable, it’s individualizing it’s social media presence, thus staying relevant to consumers, and it’s creating a relationship with the consumer through involvement and initiating user generated content.
For social media to be a worthwhile business tool, small businesses need to see it as an opportunity to create a relationship, to have a conversation, and most of all, to listen – listen to the consumer. Because they will tell you want they want.
MYOB (2012, 14 November). New Zealand business getting less social.
Casserly, M. (2013). Why small businesses are losing on social media. [Article] Forbes.com, 31-33 Forbes.com 4/17/2013 Page 31
Bakeman, M. M. & Hanson, L. (2012). Bringing social media to small business: A role for employees and students in technology diffusion, Business Education Innovation Journal, 4(2), 106-111.
Kaplan, A. M. (2012). If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55(2), 129-139. doi: 10.1016/j.bushor.2011.10.009
‘Avoid The Cleanse: How To Keep Your Subscribers‘ by Scott Stratten