Managers are scared of social media and the damage it can do to their brand. They see, or worse experience, the horror stories. One false tweet and the world comes crashing down around your ears. The funny thing is that their sales and call-centre people speak on behalf of the brand every minute on the day. It’s just that only one customer at a time hears them. It’s not amplified by social media.
As a result the PR team runs most corporate social media efforts. They try to make messaging personal but they are inherently corporate creatures. Meanwhile the real business of the company is largely transacted in person-to-person sales.
While all this is going on the customers themselves are hungry for personal contact. They are deeply engaged in social media, seeking information and sharing their thoughts and intentions while seeking approval from peers. The same people are often looking for personal service from retailers and may become loyal to a store or brand just because they like and trust a sales person. In fact getting the right balance between personal service and uncomfortable pushiness is just as critical in both one-on-one sales and on-line media. Why wouldn’t it be?
What if the natural role of social media in business is to simply extend one-on-one selling on-line? Maybe be the social media horror stories are simply exposing a problem hidden in face -to-face conversations. In a world hungry for service maybe the role of individuals needs training and empowerment rather than censorship. It could be time to let sales staff into the conversation with customers instead of locking them out via company communication policies. If so a radical re-engineering of engagement software platforms is required. There is a huge opportunity for companies to empower micro social media engagement but how do they unlock it?
I’ll be sharing ideas on this over my next few posts…