communicating

Using Social Technology to your Advantage

Using technology to your advantage isn’t difficult. Start by buying a domain, building a website, and selling your products online. But, social technology isn’t quite as simple. It takes on a life of its own because it’s 90% social and 10% technology. And it’s not just bloggers you have to think about, you also have to think of people who use Twitter, Facebook, comment on blogs, forums, etc.

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That’s not to say that this is a bad thing. It’s quite the opposite. Offering a place where customers can talk about your products and help each other with problems can be beneficial in several ways. Two of them being from a marketing and financial standpoint.

When you try out a new restaurant and the food is great, what’s the first thing you’d expect people to do? I would expect that person to write a Facebook post about it. It would probably be along the lines of “Went to dinner at *restaurant* and the food was awesome!” That’s free marketing. You had awesome food… so they told their friends. And now it’s in the back of their friends minds. So, the next time their friend wants to go out to dinner and they’re debating on where they want to go… they’ll remember “OH! *person* said *restaurant* had awesome food… let’s check it out!”

This also works with forums. If you search “AT&T Forums” the first thing to pop up is AT&T Community Support. Here consumers can post questions about their products and other users and even employees can help! I looked around their boards and there were plenty of AT&T employees who were willing to share their knowledge while not on the clock, as well as other customers who were able to help and AT&T even has people dedicated to monitoring the forums to answer questions. This is a fast and easy way to knock out questions without having to put someone on hold several times during a phone call to transfer them to whomever they need to speak with. The fewer people involved in a question, the fewer resources you need to use per problem. This also energizes the community. AT&T has different levels for people who help out on the forums. They have titles from “senior warrior” to “senior ninja”. And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be known as a warrior or ninja online?

So, how do you use social technology to your advantage? You energize your customers and potential customers, you listen to what they’re saying, and you respond in helpful ways and prove you’re listening. Because what good is going online for answers if there’s no one there with answers?

What would you do to use social technology to your advantage?

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

If you were to poll a random group of people, asking them “What does the term ‘social media’ mean to you?”, you would likely end up with several different answers. Social media means something different to different types of people. To an educated scholar, social media could be seen as a tool to market a product or themself. To a 20-something college student, social media could be seen as a way to communicate with family and friends without having to talk on the phone. To a young teenager, social media could be a way for them to creep on that cute boy/girl in their math class. And to my mom, social media is a way to grow and harvest crops without ever leaving the living room. But, there has to be a connecting factor between the different platforms of social media.

Connecting & Communicating

One of those factors is connecting. Social media is used to connect people to people, businesses to people, and business to business. According to this article by Nielsen one of the top three most popular social media brands is Facebook. Facebook helps both people and businesses interact with each other. While completing an internship out-of-state, Facebook (and Twitter) helped me stay in touch with family and friends from home. Sure, I could have called them, but the hours I worked it was much easier to get on the computer while lying in bed and update my Facebook status than calling everyone I wanted to contact. It opened up a quick and easy line of communication; but, this isn’t always seen as a positive thing. Some may find that this kind of communication is killing the art of the hand written letter and the personal qualities of a phone call. I believe this to be partly true. I can’t be the only one who misses letters in the mail that helped balance out all the bills and junk mail. But, in today’s fast paced society, instant gratification is becoming a norm causing the ability to achieve immediate responses a necessity. This is causing a change in how businesses need to interact with their clientele. For example, I recently had an unpleasant experience at a chain restaurant in Germantown, TN. I grabbed a business card for the manager and wrote him an e-mail Thursday evening. I received a response Sunday afternoon, 3 days later. I found them on Twitter and saw that someone was unhappy about their food and they replied back to their tweet the same day! Instant gratification.

It's all about connecting and building relationships.

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 From Wikipedia to YouTube and from Twitter to your favorite podcasts, social media is all about connecting to people, communicating with people, and sharing content with people. There are still kinks to figure out, but we’re well on our way to changing our relationships with who we’re trying to reach.

So, dear readers, are you a fan of where social media is and where it is headed? Why or why not?