By listening to your "social echo," integrating social media into business practices, recognizing the value of good content, and overcoming the challenges inherent in real-time marketing, just about anyone can master this new way of doing business.
In my opinion, the most important thing to do is to listen. I hear a lot of people say, "I'd use Twitter, but I don't have anything to say." First of all, that’s probably not true. But secondly, Twitter can (and should) be used to listen. No matter what industry you're in, someone (a potential customer?) is probably talking about it on Twitter. It's basically free market research. And it's happening in real-time.
But, as Adam Brown from Dell was quick to point out, "listening doesn’t mean a hill of beans if you're not engaging with your audience and acting on it." And the only way you can "act on it" is by making social media an integral part of your business.
At Dell, they’re embedding social media across the fabric of their entire organization. Their goal is to have all of their employees interacting in social media, representing their brand positively in everything they do. And it appears to be paying off. According to their research, every one of their Facebook fans is worth about $240 in sales.
Still, social media is a daunting arena. There are 572,000 new Twitter accounts every day. Every 4-6 days, 1 billion tweets are sent. And, after all, not everyone is Dell.
So how do you stand out from that crowd and get heard? According to Tiffany Maleshefski of San Francisco’s Zendesk, the key is good content. “Think like an editor. It’s competitive out there. Write in headlines.” And forget the hard sell of traditional marketing. As she said, “If you’re good, people will pay attention to you.”
Obviously, there’s going to be trouble out there. Someone somewhere is going to inevitably say something less than flattering about your brand. They’re called trolls. And they can’t be avoided. What can be avoided, though, is being in the dark about anything being said about you or your brand. What can be avoided is not having a strong strategy in place to successfully engage with that feedback. Criticism can often lead to growth -- you just have to make sure you’re in the right place to hear it.
To read more on the matter, check out our recent white paper.