We have given our lives to social media, no doubt there. In fact, for many social media is omnipresent. No matter what we do - eat at our favorite restaurant, take the kids skating, watch a movie, go grocery shopping, or hop next door to the coffee shop - we are routinely sharing our experiences, either with words or images or both, and we are literally documenting our lives and our experiences through social media channels and interaction. We tweet, We Instagram. We upload to Facebook. All in the hopes of communicating and interacting with our friends, family, and peers. We smile less, we "smiley" more; we appreciate less often than we "like" or "share"; we don't talk as much as we "tweet" and we would rather ask life questions on Quora than ask our parents and friends those questions in life outside of our screen. Marketers have been taking note and a whole new business type has branched off from there - social business.
So often, the first question asked by businesses getting into social media is which social channels do they need to be on? Should they be on Twitter or do they even need to bother with Instagram? For businesses wishing to be social, the first thing they need to recognize is the importance of being where their audience is. You might have a dedicated team managing your social media profiles, planning your campaigns, or handling all of your social media activities. But, if you're not interacting, forget about your plans for social business, because you're shouting at a wall.
If you wish to build a successful social business, you have to break the wall. Get your employees to participate genuinely in your social media initiatives. Make them your brand's voice and let them interact in their own social circles. Your social media efforts seem more human, and this human touch is what people want, need, and look for.
People are talking but are you listening?
We witness a dichotomy when it comes to social media use. People (and brands) hop from one social media channel to another at a dizzying speed, rarely taking time out to monitor and listen to what is being said. That's one category of social media users. The other? They religiously plant their social media teams on every imaginable social media channel, and they post, share, tweet, pin, stumble, hashtag and so on at the speed of light, without giving a hoot about involvement or interaction.
The travesty is easy to see. Whether you are hopping or planted, you may never get your social media spotlight, or your goldmine of customer intelligence without listening as well. If your business wants to focus on connecting and building closer relationships, then it is less about what you share on social media and more about how the things that you are sharing are driving meaningful conversations.
Most of the time, the best results come from the simplest actions. It rings true for social media as well. But, remember by "simple" I don't mean "easy." It takes persistent effort to hone your business' listening ear and make social media your market analysis tool. But, trust me, the efforts are well worth it.
Set foot on the right platform but pay more attention to conversation
Instead of trying out fancy new tricks, or getting yourself registered on every new social platform that makes an appearance, restrict your activities to two or three channels and invest time in reading through discussions, listening to user-generated content, and understanding current interests. You can even ask your audience to show you, making social media an even better tool for gaining customer insights. You no longer have to guess, when you can directly ask your audience about their choices via quizzes, polls, and discussions.
Make social listening the foundation of your social business. Stop resting on the laurels of 'likes' and 'shares' and start listening. You will be headed for a successful social media presence, built by learning your customers' preferences and customizing your products and services around what you hear from them.
In a world where people want to make connections with brands through the people that represent them, the goal of social media has to be about starting, and maintaining conversations and connection through active listening. The platform you use is up to you!