I think so.
And I think that this is the lastest struggle brands face in ‘modernising’ their approach to interacting with their customers. It’s not now unusual to find a brand on your social networks, but it its still fairly unusual to find one ‘doing it’ well.
It wasn’t all that long ago that you wouldn’t find your favourite national or even global brand on Facebook. Nowadays its seems even the laggards, like those local businesses that never even had a website before, are all over the place. Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, you name it, they have an account there.
But what are they doing there?
Broadcasting, it would seem.
I mean they are telling us stuff about themselves.
Talking AT us. Not conversing WITH us.
Telling us what they are selling or where to find them or many other mind numbingly boring details about their business. To be fair, their business is their pride and joy, and I do admire people that love what they do. But generally, I’m not interested in whether or not there is ample free parking available at their store.
I am interested in the people that work there, the great things I can do with their product, or learning about how they can solve my problems – I’m interested in seeing them demonstrate that they are listening to what I’ve got to say and hearing them respond accordingly.
I’m not interested in the structure of the business of how long they have been in business or the benefits of buying from them.
I want to know how it works, or how it can help me, or how I can otherwise be entertained by hanging out with them in their social spaces.
I’m not interested in why it is you’re better than your competition or how much advertising budget you’ve got.
I am interested in how you deal with the real life people that have done business with you and maybe were not satisfied first time round. How have you looked after them?
I’m not interested in how clever you are, or how far ahead of the game you are or how shiny your website is.
I am interested in how ‘human’ you are. I’m interested in the community of customers and employees and anyone else that’s associated with you.
I want to know that I can trust you. I want to engage with you, yes, but I want to also to feel like you’re engaged with me in return. I know you’re a big organisation and we are not really having a 1-2-1 relationship, but I want to know its important to you to try!
Over time, we will have lots of small interactions and gradually we will develop a trust, I will feel more like a fan than a customer and I will advocate for you. I will sell on your behalf.
And I want to know that you won’t betray that trust. I want to know that you’ll be there for me in the same way I am there for you.
It a strange thing in a way. But that’s the way this stuff goes. There is so much competition out there, so much clutter. There are some many businesses that make me feel defensive, like I should be cautious about using them. I don’t want to fall into a sales trap and get caught out or give my details over only to have a multitude of sales calls off the back of it.
There won’t be many brands I engage with on this level, but the ones I do will be the ones that are social. And they are the ones that will survive and even win in this, the new way of working, the new way of existing alongside your customers. As part of the same ecosystem as your customers.
Not apart, not different, the same.
The days of big faceless corporations getting away with taking my money and doing little except disappointing me in return are limited. We are getting more and more used to this stuff yes, but the revolution hasn’t played out fully yet. There is more to come.
There are more traditional businesses that will go the way of the old style bricks and mortar operations eviscerated by the Amazons of this world. The way of the Kodaks of this world.
Those that saw the change coming too late. Those that were blindsided by their newly powerful customers. The new choices abounding, and the new way the choices were being made.
The power of the social web.
Broadcasting on social media channels isn’t enough. Just doing what you’ve always done but doing it in Facebook won’t cut it. Regurgitating someone else’s insightful content maybe a starting point, but its not the be all and end all.
Asking me to ‘like’ your pictures without a pay off for me won’t cut it. And I’m not going to share your content unless there is a lot of value in it for me too.
You need to finally start to listen, to get to know your customers, show that you care. Put you customers at the centre of what you do.
Be more social.
Be. More. Human.