During the Imagine stage, we no doubt came up with several ideas for potential social intersections to be explored. Now it’s time to connect. Connecting is the tactical phase of social media engagement where we reach out to key people or even entire communities with our message. We connect with people where they are, not where we think they should be. It’s a bonus if they are participating in communities or networks that we are already involved with, but that’s not always the way it works out. Read more…
We are almost ready to sign off on 2009, and wow – what a year! I’ve read many excellent posts that discuss predictions for 2010, and there are definitely a lot of great ideas being discussed on this topic. The year of mobile, the year of mass adoption of social media, the year of geo-targeting, etc. These are all exciting, and I can’t wait to see where it all leads. But for now, I wanted to highlight 1 thing that I believe is the most critical aspect for all organizations to embrace in 2010. Listening.
We hear about listening and its importance in social media, and I believe that organizations that are still struggling to make sense out of the social media space (or indeed the entirety of the changing media landscape) would be doing themselves the biggest favor by simply making a concerted effort to listen. Powerful things happen when we listen, but perhaps more importantly it’s the thing that happens after we listen that matters most. Thinking about what we’ve heard is critical before just jumping in and starting to talk back.
This concept plays out in personal dialogue all the time, and most of us can be better listeners, myself certainly included. Think about how you interact with other people either face to face or over the phone – do you listen to what the other person is saying to you and take the time to process their thoughts before articulating your response, or do you jump right in as soon as there is a pause? Worse yet, do you interrupt people as they are speaking and try to finish their sentences or interject your thought before you forget it? We’ve all been there, on both sides of that situation and it’s a bad habit that inhibits our relationships with others.
The same holds true for business. If we are constantly interrupting without processing what the community is telling us, then we are not really present in the conversation. The value in truly listening is incalculable. Everything we need to figure out what to do next is all there, we just have to be open to discovering it and we have to take the time to process the information and think, not react. Everyone approaches this in a different way, but I think a critical factor is that we give ourselves permission to think. Take time. Turn off your email. Turn off TweetDeck, Seesmic, HootSuite, or whatever monitoring tool you use. Take a walk. Meditate. Go for a run. Do whatever it is that you have to do to get your head around the information. Then come back and discuss your ideas with your team. You’ll have lots of great data and insights to back you up, which will help you build your case. Does this make sense?
So many people in Marketing are trying to figure out what to do in social media in 2010, or how they can get their bosses to buy into it/assign budgets, etc. If you are in that situation and you need to convince your company to engage, I think the single most effective thing you can do is to get them to listen to what is happening in your community or industry without committing to any particular course of action. Propose that they sign up for a Radian6 account, or whatever monitoring tool you prefer. Don’t worry about what you are going to do next – that’s what the thinking stage is for. Just listen. Take time. Maybe it’s days, weeks, a month or more. The point is that by listening and capturing information and then taking the time to think about what you’ve heard without pressuring yourself or your organization to have the answers immediately, you will be in a much better position to engage your boss, your staff, your customers, etc. in a way that will resonate and provide value to everyone involved.
What do you think? Can 2010 be the year of listening?
How many Marketers out there do you think really understand the power of truly targeted messaging in their Marketing Communications? We’ve heard it all before – ‘I understand my target – Gen X (or whatever broad segment it might be). I’m running ads on _______ (you fill in the blank).’ Yeah, they really have it down – just spend, spend, spend – spend on ads on all the popular TV shows or websites. But running ‘targeted’ ads on the latest TV show, magazine, web portal, etc. is only the beginning. How many Marketers have an active dialogue with their customers and actually know what they are passionate about and furthermore communicate that understanding in their messaging?
I think there is a more effective way of targeting that gets more results in the long run. Consider this idea – once you understand the segment that you are wanting to speak to, find ways to align your brand naturally into the lifestyle of that segment. Or how about create something of value for them that is uniquely yours to give. Find ways to give them something that only you provide and turn them into customers that actually respect you for it. One of the best targeted promotions I’ve seen recently is Chili’s MySpace Secret Shows promotion. Instead of just running banner ads on MySpace, they have an entire promotional concept running in the community that is all about supporting music and emerging bands. If you join the community on MySpace, you get invited to ‘Secret Shows’ in major cities that are not promoted any other way. How cool is that??? I’ll tell you how cool it is – the Secret Shows profile has over 431,000 members on it as of April 12, 2007! People camp out the night before the shows to make sure they are able to get in. And it’s all provided by Chili’s. Now, I admit, I’m a music fanatic and it has always been a big part of my life, so this really got me excited. But I’m clearly not the only one. I’ve always been a big believer in events as a way to align a brand with consumers, but the way this has been packaged is brilliant! They didn’t just sponsor a handful of concerts and get some branding. They created an entire targeted community that is passionate about what they are doing, and by the way, they still get all the branding at the event just like they would have with traditional sponsorships.
Bottom line – Chili’s got inside the heads of a targeted segment of customers. You can to, and you should. Get to know the segments that make up your customer base. Really get to know them. Bring value. Encourage dialogue. Become a part of the conversation. And most of all – do it in a way that is totally transparent and genuine. Your customers will notice and respect you for it.