Adapting to Well-Informed Customers

The power of knowledge and information is no longer in the hands of companies, businesses, and products. The spread of information has grown exponentially with the advent of search engines, Wikipedia, and most importantly, customer reviews via sites like Yelp. According to SAPVoice via a Forbes article, “Customers are tracking down information via Google; looking at what other consumers have to say about products and services on Amazon and Facebook; and researching what other business buyers are saying on LinkedIn.” This means that you, as a business, are no longer in total control of your reputation, and every blunder, misstep, and snafoo you make can be broadcast to the public. And you cannot delete them. You shouldn’t even try, because we all know attempts to delete or hide information from Internet users will only lead to an exponentially opposite reaction (see the Streisand Effect). So what can you do? The landscape of business and closing a sale is forever altered, and those that fail to adapt will fall behind. Social media and customer engagement is the key.

Social media sites are where you customers congregate, socialize, and subconsciously share information that may be valuable to you. That’s how sites like Facebook advertise to their users so effectively. As a company, you have to stop thinking like a company and start connecting with people on an individual level, and that means appointing a Community Manager – someone who knows the ins and outs of social media sites, and most importantly, someone who is great at interacting with people. In other words, you need a face, a voice, and a personality to be at the forefront of where your customers and potential customers will receive their first impression of you. As a company, your priority is to make a sale, but with a great Community Manager, you can leave a positive and lasting impression that will keep a customer coming back for more. Play your cards right, and they’ll bring some friends with them. Creating a stellar personality and profile and your customers will become your advocates, and this is where you want your social media presence to land.

Customers as Advocates

Like I mentioned earlier, people’s impressions of you and your products come not from you, but from the experience of others. If you have ready, willing, an able customer advocates, you’re essentially receiving free advertisement! If you’re good to your customers, they’ll be good to you.

When You TELL Your Story, You SELL Your Story

Every once in a while it’s nice to see a credible source confirming your ideas on marketing and social media, namely how you should approach supposed “best practices” that seem to rehash the same strategies over and over again. It makes you wonder if there has been any progress in the industry, or if the writers of these articles are just summarizing other people in a huge circle of paraphrasing that leads nowhere. In any case, I’ve always pushed for companies to use social networks in a very basic way: as a social network rather than just a marketing tool. This means your company or business needs to have a personality. It needs to have a story. Check out this TED Talk with Simon Sinek, says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

The most important circle, the center of everything, is WHY you do something, and that’s where your story comes in. The “why” does not mean “to make a profit”, but rather a personal statement on what you’re trying to achieve independent of whether or not people want to buy your product. What does your company’s mission mean to you, CEO? What special significance does the product have for you, Social Marketer? Look at number two on this Forbes article titled “Increase Customer Acquisition by 400% With Storytelling“: Be a trusted person not trying to sell something. This incredibly important method of utilizing social networks for marketing purposes requires you to be a person whose personality emulates that of an expert fan of your company. You need to be as enthusiastic about your product as your most loyal customer, providing information in palatable, easy-to-understand terms, as well as an inside look at the company’s inner workings. The person you hire to fill this roll needs to be an inside source for your audience, a spy that can give them exclusive information in a seemingly secretive way, but also on a highly visible stage: social media sites. Be human. Sound human. Something as simple as a reminder any questions can be handled through private messaging or even a form on your site will create an open and welcome environment for your target audience. Once you find a healthy balance between human activities and company marketing, you’re going to reach people in a more meaningful way.

Social Media: Bridging the Gap Between Police and Public

The number of police brutality cases seem to be at an all time high. Is it because corruption and abuse of power within the local authorities has gone up in the past two decades, or is it because social media outlets have allowed citizens to to record and report these incidents more easily? Nearly everyone with access to a smartphone and the Internet can record instants of police brutality and broadcast it, so it’s no wonder we’re hearing more and more about it on channels like Youtube and sites like Reddit. Not only does this put power in the hands of civilians, instances like the death of Eric Garner forces institutions like the NYPD to change the way they train their officers. But this begs the question: why weren’t our officers trained properly to begin with? Why does it take a huge blow to the reputation of the NYPD to inspire any change at all? Perhaps there are changes, and we’re just not hearing about them.

Local authorities and other government institutions don’t have a stellar reputation because they don’t have a stellar presence online. The Internet is where most people get their news today. It’s where they find the most interesting stories about heroics, and the problem here is that the police aren’t broadcasting their good deeds well enough. Until recently. Just take a look at his story of an NYPD officer who saved a baby’s life by performing CPR found on Gothamist. Rather than posting the usual dry and detailed press releases that clinically describe what happened on the case, they posted it on their Facebook Page, giving the officer and the department a more human face in a place where humans tend to congregate and socialize: social media sites.

In all honesty, the reports of police department misdeeds are like Yelp reviews: people post negative reviews more often because a complaint is easier to write than a compliment; we don’t see the whole story. It’s up to the police departments to take their reputations into their own hands and really work on showing off their positive deeds where people can see them. The bridge between the public and the police are wide enough. Cops are supposed to be protecting the people. Our tax dollars pay their salaries, and they should live by the mantra they have printed on the sides of their cars: CPR, which stands for Courtesy, Professionalism, and Respect. These are the things civilians should expect and experience from the police, not what the police should expect or demand from the citizens. To every precinct in America: if you want respect to go both ways, show us you are on our side, and we will gladly have you on ours. Speak to us where we can hear you. Like with every institution in the world, you must adapt and adopt new forms of media and communications, or you will be left behind.