A good lesson both on and off the track.
Every business needs to recognize the just like a horse controlled by a jockey, tools like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube in themselves don’t define success. It’s the ideas behind them, or lack thereof, that help to determine the outcome.
Photo via r w h
I remember spending my summer weekends as a small girl looking forward to a specific sound. I would kneel on my couch in our living room overlooking the street, with my stomach against the back rest, head cupped in my hands, staring out the window, waiting… Waiting for that musical sound to come down the street. The ice cream truck.
No longer am I a kid. And no longer can I eat ice cream every day (as much as I’d love to). But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have anticipations. I have many.
Every day, when I log on to Facebook, I anticipate what my friends are talking about. But there’s one specific person that stands out from the rest. His witty and often quirky updates delight me. They put a smile on my face. They make me nod in agreement. They make me shake my head. I look forward to his posts. I seek them out.
I follow about 400 people on Twitter. While that might sound like a lot, it pales in comparison to the thousands many of my friends follow. What’s funny though is that there is a very small handful of people whose tweets I anticipate – probably less than 10. People who add value to my life with their updates.
There’s no shortage of tweets, status updates, blog posts, invitations, articles and websites. In fact, you may feel bombarded and overwhelmed. In this huge pond of content, there are but a few individuals that talk about things that, for one reason or another, strike a chord with us. And even fewer who create enough consistency that we excitedly anticipate what they will say next. Today, there’s a lot of traffic, but not a lot of ice cream trucks.
Wikileaks has prompted a war of sorts. It has made many of us pick sides. Some Internet activists vehemently believe that Wikileaks stands for freedom of speech, while others believe (just as strongly) that too many lines have been crossed. Regardless of which side you stand on, one thing rings true: We are now living in the age of exposure.
Everyday people wield unprecedented power to expose companies’ dirty little secrets – all they need is a little bit of passion, an audience and access to the internet. Employees, former employees, disgruntled customers, competitors or anyone with a vested interest in your company can wage their own war with you smack dab in the center.
The infamous face of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, once warned that if a company wished to stay off of the pages of his site they should simply operate ethically and treat their employees well. The big lesson for businesses in this new era should be that what you say is not nearly as important as what you do.
When I first began speaking about social media, almost 4 years ago, most of the conversation revolved around what is social media and why businesses need to care about it. Today, however, most people know this. These days people are challenged with standing out from the sea of noise online, maximizing resources, selecting the right tools to engage their audience and getting results.
This is why I created my Social Media Strategy workshop, which will be held on November 2, 2010 from 12:00pm EDT – 1:30pm EDT. It will provide you with the tools to create a plan to achieve success. You’ll learn:
Book now to take advantage of Early Bird pricing.
Check out what one attendee said about our Kickstart a Killer Blog in 7 Days webinar:
“Once again, you knocked it out of the park! Your webinar was high energy and clearly articulated. It was the perfect blend of technical and creative, and you armed me with an arsenal of tools for managing every facet of my blog and online presence. I would wholeheartedly recommend it for new or veteran bloggers alike. Your understanding of social media and branding is truly a great gift – thank you.” – Carolyn Ray
You’re not alone…Welcome to social media guilt. It’s all around us. We can’t escape from those dreaded two words (SOCIAL MEDIA). They appear on the cover of magazines, newspapers, our favorite TV shows are on twitter and have Facebook pages, our friends and family talk about the funny videos they recently saw on YouTube. No, social media isn’t going away. But I’m here to tell you that you no longer need to feel guilty.
I would much rather see many businesses focus on the fundamentals of the business before they think about social media. Namely, business model.
Social media is in many ways changing many business models. I only need to look at my husband’s industry to see a great example of this. Michael was a head hunter for 20+ years. Now, approximately 90% of all employers use social media to find and attract employees. The headhunting business model needs to be significantly revised.
I can say the same for associations. I’ve been a member of a number of industry associations and they all hung their hat on Networking and Education. Here’s the problem with that value model. I can now network with more people, across the globe, without ever leaving my office. Instead of being in a room with a handful of people – many of them not my potential customers – I can now use keywords online to find the right prospects for my business, find out about their fears & frustrations, needs & desires, contact them, build a relationship and offer a solution all before I ever meet them in person. Oh, and as for education, well at the click of a mouse I can find the answer to virtually any question I have. I can sign up for a growing list of webinars, read industry blogs, participate in wikis, converse in Twitter chats, and the list goes on. Associations need to revisit their business model.
If you’re business model is unremarkable, you’ll likely be unremarkable online.
Spend the time getting to know the space before jumping in to anything. Listen. Find examples of companies you think are doing a great job and identify where their success comes from. Find companies that are doing a terrible job and ask yourself why. Listen to your target market online and find out what their needs are so you can create a compelling solution. Don’t get bamboozled into being everywhere just because everyone else tells you that you need to be there. Be where it makes sense to put your business to connect with your audience.
We all have limited time and resources, yet we all have limitless opportunities. Smart businesses do only what they can be exceptional at. Why divide your time between 10 different social media sites, when you can be exceptional on 1. Imagine the value to your brand when people recognize you stand for incredible insights & expertise.
The next time someone tells you that you just have to check out that new social media tool, tell them that you’re too busy being exceptional.
In this new era of Social Media, words like engagement, community, relationships, listening all feel a bit like a tune playing over and over again from a record stuck on repeat . And for good reason…but these aren’t the words I’m referring to.
I’m not sure if you’ve seen the recent firestorm surrounding Price Chopper. It all began when someone tweeted the following message about Price Chopper:
Now, let’s face it. This is not a remarkable tweet. In fact, I’d wager a guess that Price Chopper gets quite a few of these sorts of tweets every week. But what happened next was remarkable.
A Price Chopper PR Associate (originally reported as the Price Chopper PR Team) took it upon herself to look up the author of the tweet, identify their employer through their Twitter Bio and call the employer directly to complain about the employee. The fact that a corporate employee would address a negative comment in such a way has resulted in a lot of heated conversation – specifically around liability and ethics.
Risk & Mitigation
I hope that every single business who reads this post will not only take the time to read the original report as well as the flurry of comments that ensued, but also sit down with key employees within your organization to discuss the potential exposure your business has to similar experiences. Small businesses do not spend enough time talking about risks as well as what to do to mitigate those risks.
No one can predict the future. But, we can learn from other people’s successes as well as their mistakes. Many, like Comcast and Dominos have been able to turn similar negative situations into opportunities that turned their businesses around. But if you ask them, they’ll likely say they wish they had learned their lesson the easy way.
So please do yourself a favor and spend time thinking through risks and mitigation.