This may not need to be said to you, but I’ll say it just in case: social media isn’t a mystical pixie dust you throw on your products or services and sit back to watch the magic happen. It doesn’t work like that, yet sometimes I get the sense that more than a few people think it does.
Social Media Is Like A Spice Rack
Social media for business is like the spice rack in your kitchen. There are all kinds of good flavors (like the Facebook spice or the blog spice) you can add to your meal to enhance and interact with the existing flavors, but there must be flavor to begin with. Too many spices leave you tasting only the spices, and nobody just eats spices. Too few spices leave you tasting the original flavors, which as good as they may be, are probably lacking the mind-blowing, tell-everyone-you-know kind of meal you’d like to have.
That’s how it is with social media for business. When done well, social media enhances a good business. It shows all the great things about who you are and what you do. If there are aspects to you business that are bad, however, it will reveal those too. That’s why social media won’t change certain fundamentals about good business. You can’t neglect some of the most important things about business and hope it will all be fine if you do more in social media. That’s like adding a bunch of spices to burned food. It’s still burned and therefore not worth eating.
5 Things Social Media Won’t Change About Business
Below are five things social media won’t change about your business. If you have issues with these, social media is not going to work as well for you as you like, and it’s not a social media problem. It’s a business problem. Your business problem.
- Social media won’t fix crappy products. If your product stinks, social media will be the place where people will talk about how terrible it is. If you’re serious about creating good products, you can use the feedback to make your products better. People will talk about that too. If you aren’t willing to hear bad news, learn from it, and change as needed, you’re not going to like what you find and your social media interactions will always be sub-par.
- Social media won’t fix poor customer service. One of the great benefits of social media is that current and future customers can ask you (or someone from your company) questions. The great thing about this is that it’s all done in public for everyone to see. So if your company does this well, you’re communicating a lot about yourself by engaging in customer service via social media tools. If your customer service is really bad or absent in the social media space, you’re communicating something there too. You’re telling people that you don’t care or don’t know that there are people ready to interact with you someplace where the company doesn’t control the interactions. If you’re not sure whether or not you’re missing anything about your company, products, services, etc. in social media try this: do a quick search in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Technorati (for blogs), to see if anyone is talking about you. If they are, the next question is: What are you going to do about it?
- Social media won’t fix stubborn leadership. One of the biggest barriers involved in getting a company to begin considering social media is that their leaders are opposed to it in some way. Sometimes it’s a misconception of what social media is and other times it’s a concern over losing control over the corporate message. Despite the grassroots nature that works so well in the world of social media, it’s still really important for a company’s leadership to understand and support it. I’ve worked with organizations that have been able to take social media part of the way through the company only to get stuck with a leader who was never really on board to begin with. Regardless of where you find yourself in your own company, it’s important to have internal social media champions. Someday, you’ll be called on. In the meantime, stay positive and look for opportunities to show the leaders the small wins so they can begin to dream about the big wins.
- Social media won’t resolve dumb policies and procedures. If your company had some downright dumb policies or procedures, plan on hearing about it through social media. Just like the product comments above, you can learn from these and make changes, or you can hunker down with the “that’s just what our policy is” kind of approach. The funny thing about hunkering down is that you always do that when there are shots being fired at you. With social media you can choose to preempt some of the shots because you’ll deal with them head on. This is yet another opportunity for you. It doesn’t even mean that you give people what they’re asking for all the time. It does mean that you take the time to explain why you do what you do. If they can’t be satisfied, at least help them understand your situation. There’s a great balancing opportunity there which is, again, available for everyone to see. You’ll be saying a lot about who you are as a company and your view of customers by how you deal with these kinds of things.
- Social media won’t make people like you if they don’t already. Social media is social only because it allows you to interact at a more personal level with many people. The good news is, if you have good people skills and are generally a likable person, social media will allow everyone else to discover that also. If, however, people generally don’t like you, don’t think it’s going to be any different on Twitter or Facebook. This is an important point for businesses in social media because you need to place likable, engaging people on the social media front lines for your business. The crabby, defensive, annoying, or don’t-cross-me kind of attitude generally doesn’t fly too well. We know it doesn’t in real life so we shouldn’t expect that it to be the same in social media space.