The Social Conversation: It’s About Listening

Late last year, Dell computer opened its Social Media Listening Command Center at their headquarters outside of Austin, Texas. The listening room is just one of many social media marketing strategies that Dell is using. The company has a series of Facebook pages with user-generated content promoting its products; formal ways to incorporate customer-based suggestions into future product features; and a number of Twitter accounts they use to broadcast daily deals.

Other companies using social media sites like Twitter for business include Southwest Airlines who uses Twitter to inform their customers about deals, and Comcast who uses Twitter to resolve customer service issues.

Social Media for Business: 5 Signs You Are Ready

Does social media really matter to your business? How will you know?

Earlier this month, Ad Age Digital’s B.L. Ochman revealed that Less than half of the top 50 companies have social icons on their websites:

“Only 44% of the Fortune 50 have any social media icons on their home pages, and 60% hide their Twitter streams. Call Inspector Clouseau if you want to find the rest. Kind of amazing considering the prevalence of social buttons of all types all over the web.”

I’m stymied too. These market-making companies drive many commercial trends. What they do matters to you and me every day. They have an amazing opportunity to build relationships. Yet, you’d be surprised how few of them link to their social presence on their home pages.

General Electric probably helped you get ready for work this morning.  You pass hundreds of Ford cars, thousands of Goodyear tires  and dozens of Exxon/Mobil stations on your way there. You’ve got AT&T in your iPhoneHewlett-Packard in your office, and Bank of America in your wallet. These companies all have a social media presence. But from their front pages, you’d never know it. What are they waiting for?

Cindy’s Diner, where I go to get the best coffee on the planet, is a brisk walk down one of the back streets. Cindy knows she needs to gain an advantage any way she can. So she has a website with the icons on it. She invites me to ‘Like’ her Facebook page, right there on her handwritten specials chalkboard. She asks for my email address when I purchase a muffin. She even puts a QR Code on the receipt.

She’s not waiting.

To be fair, Cindy’s business is a lot more nimble than a Fortune 50 company. She can decide whether or not to start tweeting, sharing, and blogging about coffee, muffins, and her business. She and a few employees can make regular updates and keep current. If she has a website, Cindy can copy and paste social media icons into her site using a content management system and it’s live.

To be fair, Cindy doesn’t have a board of directors, an IT department, a web oversight team, a legal division, or a branding agency. A Fortune 50 company can’t simply slap up a few icons because the marketing folks think it’s cool. Still, I have to wonder if they plan to integrate their social strategy more fully, if they’re still thinking about it, or if they’ve reached the point where they’ve decided against it – until social media starts to matter to them.

And when’s that?

Many companies are waiting “for social media to matter” to their business, without realizing it is up to them to make it matter. A robust social presence may matter to you if:

  • Your customers often make spur-of-the-moment decisions based on impressions, and not just a painstaking deliberative process.
  • Your customers are impressed by your brand’s reach and engagement, not just portfolio holdings, valuation and strategic partnerships.
  • Your customers have a relationship with their favorite brands that goes beyond awareness or loyalty – they achieve inclusion.
  • Your customers seek out information and reviews about your products from places other than just your website.
  • Your company holds a unique viewpoint on industry and technology trends that is worth listening to.

If any of these are true, you will benefit from social media, even if all it does is make you more accessible. Even if all you are doing is keeping up with competitors, at least your customers see you working to reach them in new ways. They see the Try. And with social media, as in all relationship-building efforts, the Try is what matters.

Tools for Monitoring Social Buzz

Social ‘Buzz’, or user-generated content, contains valuable data, so keeping tabs on buzz about your brand is critical. Even if your company is not directly involved in social media, your customers most likely are, and their conversations about your brand could be affecting your bottom line. Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets provide a direct line of communication between your brand and consumers. This channel should be treated with as much care as any other form of feedback from customers; just like live chat or direct phone support.

If people have something to say, and a place to say it, they’re going to. Like it or not, your buzz is your brand.

So what can you do about it?

Are you monitoring your brand buzz?

And if not, why not?

Social media has given your customers a place to voice their opinions, concerns, frustrations and praise about your brand, products, and services. The most tech-savvy are using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, news websites, blogs, product review websites, and other sites where there is social interaction to publicize their thoughts and feelings with the world. This means companies like yours now have an unparalleled opportunity for engaging and connecting directly with these consumers in real-time.

Sending Social Emails Just Got Easier

Really, it’s a cinch:

Bottom line: when you create a mailing, use the Insert URL feature to place the social media tags you need where you want it in your email. Your readers click the tags and share the email’s permalink with the social media platform of their choice. It really is that simple!

Find out more about social media email sharing.

One is Silver, the Other is Gold

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is Silver, the Other is Gold.

This was one of the very first things I learned as a little girl in Girl Scouts. Every so often I find myself humming the tune and singing a few of the verses that I now just barely remember. I stood around a circle and sang this song with 20 other girls so long ago and yet I still remember the lesson learned in the lyrics.

Silver shines bright. And Gold does too.
Keep them both. And they will shine for you.

Even though as young girls we were taught this lesson in friendship, as adults we can apply this message in many aspects of the business world. As I quietly mumble the words, I am thinking of how so many companies are starting out in their social media endeavors. Social media marketing initiatives are valuable, but the email marketing can still shine for you.

You have one hand, I have the other.
Put them together, We have each other.

The 46 Cent Luxury Item

So the U.S. Postal Service has now proposed to raise the cost to send a first class letter from 44 cents to 46 cents. Do you think that’s a good idea?

It costs a fraction of a cent to send an email message to anyone in the world, regardless their location and length of your message (including attachments). It usually arrives in mere seconds. It usually doesn’t matter if it is raining, snowing, or hot outside either. Compared to email, a postal letter is probably about 10,000 times more expensive to send. Simply put, a postal letter has become a luxury item.

That’s unfortunate, because I enjoy getting postal mail. As long as the ratio of bills to quality mail is reasonable, postal mail can be a great way to communicate. For cards and letters, catalogs and magazines, and other types of packages, there is nothing quite like getting an unexpected piece of postal mail.

Social Media in your Email Campaigns? Of Course!

Net Atlantic brings you email marketing with built-in social media sharing tools.

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