So often we miss the point of social media. We get caught up in the networks Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other that tickle our fancy at the time. We hear a murmur about Google’s Google+ and start to get nervous about managing yet another social media platform. The truth is that social media is not about the platform.
Social media is about the people, well at least it should be. Approaching social media strategy with a “platform mentality” is like focusing our attention on the which bike we need to ride when we should be concentrating on our fitness levels to win the race.
Fitness in social media is the ability to understand our consumers. Social media allows us to engage, communicate, question and observe our customers. This should give us a wealth of information to better understand our customers and better meet their needs. Regardless of the platform, their communication over these platforms should give us insight into their lives, their vales and their needs. Social media opens the door to understanding the new consumer, consumer 2.0. This is what a social media strategy should create, better customer understanding in order to win sales and loyalty.
The path to purchase is too complicated to suggest that social media can be an isolated sales channel on its own. What people see in social media circles often impacts their purchase decisions in a point of sale environment. Consumer opinion online can overpower your offline branding objectives and a physical experience of bad customer service will always impact sales negatively, whether experienced online or offline.
Social media cannot be strategised in isolation to other marketing channels and product design should not take place without researching customer opinion in social media channels. The complexity of social media as an industry is growing to the point that it’s starting to replicate the complexity of a human being. We use forums for formal discussion, search engines and wikipedias for research, micro-blogs for short everyday conversations and we even see business networks realising real return on investment for its users.
People are not social online because of Facebook, Facebook is social because of people.
The new consumer uses the Internet in their own way, the way that makes sense to them, that makes life easier for them. The new consumer does not use all of the Internet, only the parts that makes sense.
So our role as social media strategists is to leverage social media platforms to build communities of people online, in order to listen to, and engage with our ‘fans’. We should encourage those interested towards loyalty and listen to the entire community to learn what interests them. We should stop trying to connect with everyone, and start creating communities of value rather than size. We should start the conversation so that we show our openness to connect and we should be equipped with the ability make a real impact in our customers lives.