One thing is for certain, there has been a social media explosion in recent years with many big businesses jumping on the bandwagon and being extremely successful in various campaigns. It seems to me that the businesses that get the most out of social media are the ones that are not afraid to open their company culture up to embracing the tools and letting staff autonomously interact with the conversions that are taking place outside the organisation.
I read one article recently that talked about using Twitter as “eyes and ears” on the internet to discover what people are saying about your products or services and letting you know where you need to improve or to discover valuable information. Focusing on the customer is key in business today and these tools allow us to hold a 2 way conversation with our customers, broadcast mass media is a sure fire way to annoy customers and lose business.
The idea of there being two conversations going on is not a new one, a book “The Cluetrain Manifesto” which I read many years ago pointed this out (at I think got it right!) and another, Hugh Macleod, a cartoonist and social commentator came up with his “model” of what is going on called the “Porous Membrane”. Where by 2 concentric circles represent the conversations taking place, inside the inner most circle is the conversations taking place inside your business with the circles line boundary being the barriers to communicating with the outer most circle or the conversations taking place outside your business i.e. your customers.
The more open or porous the membrane between these two circles the more conversations start to flow between customers and businesses. Definitely a good thing.
Take this example from the stuff.co.nz new website the other day, http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/games/6486431/Massive-effort-for-tailored-gameplay.
A games company that produces a game series called “Mass Effect” has the 3rd installment of their game coming out very soon. Reading further through the article you’ll see that they solicited feedback from the fans of the game through their Facebook page. The feedback (that of being able to play the game as a female character) was picked up by the production team and implemented into the game.
They leveraged social media channels and were open to real conversations from real gamers which improved their product and in turn gave the customer what they wanted… you can’t get a better outcome from Social media use than that!