McLellan: Humanity required online, too
Friday, May 18, 2012 7:00 AM
If you own or run a business, I’d like to you take this little quiz:
1. Would you ignore your business phone 30 percent of the time it rings?
2. If a customer were standing in a crowd of your best customers and complaining loudly, would you ignore him?
3. If you had the chance to have the attention of your best customers and your best prospects for about three minutes uninterrupted, would you talk incessantly about yourself?
I have to believe that all of you passed this quiz by answering, “Good golly, no!” to all three questions. After all, you hustle like crazy to capture the attention of your customers and potential customers, right? Only a fool would squander the opportunity once he earned it.
And yet ... that is exactly what’s happening online every day, where:
• 30 percent of customer questions and comments on Facebook, Twitter and company blogs go unanswered.
• 71 percent of complaints on Twitter are ignored.
• 89 percent of corporate blogs only talk about themselves, their products, promotions and awards.
No wonder so many business people complain that they can’t measure any return on investment (ROI) on their social media efforts. If anything, their ROI should come up as a negative number!
The core idea behind Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus or any of the other networks out there is connection. Real, human connection. It’s why people share photos, stories of their day and get fired up about politics, religion and what their kid’s school is up to. And into that very personal and very meaningful conversation, most brands just blunder in and shout that they are having a sale. Ugh.
Businesses spend thousands (and sometimes millions) of dollars putting on elaborate dog-and-pony shows, with the hope of capturing someone’s attention for a millisecond. So the assumption would be that they would actually value the attention, once they’d earned it.
But the truth is, most businesses think of social media as the newest necessary evil. They can’t get out of their own way enough to see the potential in it or that they need to approach it with humanity for it to work.
So what would that humanity look like?
Real interactions: When someone talks to you, it’s polite to reply in a reasonable amount of time. If you can’t monitor and react to a social media stream, don’t be there. Every social media tool out there has a way for you to be notified if you’ve actually started or were mentioned in a conversation.
Conversation, not monologue: No one enjoys being talked at. Your goal should be to spark conversation, not spit out rhetoric. Conversations start when we care about the other person and ask questions, offer helpful information and listen to what they need from us.
Consistency: Just like all of our other relationships, we grow connections partially because of frequent exposures. You can’t get to know someone very well if you only communicate once or twice a year. It’s better to be in fewer places but be in the places you’ve chosen more often. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
Having a heart: If you genuinely care about your customers, show that by reaching out and being very human.
You can create an amazing referral source and client base with your online presence. All it takes is a little humanity to make it work.
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