Social Media is many things
- A way to connect people without the constraints of location or time.
- A tool for discovering new people with similar interests
- An overused buzz word <—guilty as charged, I used it daily.
Companies and individuals are still figuring out how to use these tools. We’re all still isolating the value. One thing that we can all seem to agree upon is the amazing power that social sites have to spread awareness.
So how can a company use social media sites to spread awareness? Well, rather than get granular in this discussion, let’s just consider a very black and white example.
Two Companies, Two Approaches to the Social Web
We have two companies in competition:
Company A, an open-source software service company
Company B, an open-source software service company
Company A has a website, some email addresses and a phone number for customer service and sales. Its “contact us” page has a form, an email address (info@companyA.com) and a phone number. Company A relies on current customers to tell others about their services and product.
Every once in a while Company A will attend trade shows and put up a billboard along the highway. They’ve even been known to place print advertisements in targeted magazines. They don’t have a single Twitter account. No Facebook presence. No YouTube videos. And the CEO has recently been quoted as saying “what’s a Linked In?” The company’s CTO still isn’t sold on this whole “social media thing.”
Company B has everything Company A has but has also embraced the social web. Not only do they have phone numbers for sales and customer service but also Twitter accounts. The sales team uses Twitter and Twitter search to isolate relevant conversations about software issues by individuals who have self-identified as CIOs or CTOs at various large companies.
The company also regularly puts together slideshow presentations about their various services, including case studies across various industries. These presentations are uploaded to Slideshare.net and shared by the sales teams on their Twitter accounts and #hashtag’d for easy discovery. Those slideshare presentations are also showcased on employee LinkedIn profiles.
The support department uploads a screencasts to Youtube once per month. These screencasts provide software troubleshooting to frequently encountered issues. These videos are also shared across various Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
Some Obvious but Rhetorical Questions
Which of these two companies is easier to find and contact?
Which of these two companies will be found when people run a search on a social website?
Which of these two companies has lower support costs?
Which of these two companies has a deeper sales pipeline?
Which of these two companies has more marketing materials?
The World of Company B
You are perfectly free to continue being Company A. You can speculate that Twitter will be ancient history in 2 years, you can convince yourself that YouTube has no business value and that blogging is a waste of company time. You may be right. Twitter might not last forever, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is opportunity there NOW.
Cynicism about these channels isn’t going to do much good though once you realize that companies like Company B are the ones who are going to, and are currently succeeding by using these tools. By the time you get around to the realization that being accessible and creating content would help your business you may find yourself out…out of business.
This economy is based on competition. So how do you stack up? Are you company A or company B?
I help build company B.