As I sit here thinking about my experience with social media and different social media platforms I contemplate an odd question. Should businesses stay out of social media altogether? You probably think I’m nuts, you have been telling us social media, social media, social media. I guess I’d have to say that there is a possibility that maybe you should stay out of social media altogether if you are going to do it poorly. You’re probably wondering what I’m saying right now, my concern is with broadcasting via social media, it appears that most companies most small businesses and even most large businesses at this point are still seeing social media as a broadcast media. If that’s your scenario and that’s your mindset, then chances are that you’re going do more damage to your brand and more damage to your company than if you had stayed out of social media entirely.
As with playing a sport such as basketball or football one of the things that’s necessary for you to do is to play both sides of the game you can’t just play offense and not defense. In the scenario of social media you can’t just go on the sharing side of the equation and not ever respond to your consumers who are commenting or talking about you. You have to play both sides of this game, I saw some statistics recently where 56% of customer tweets to companies are being ignored and 95% of comments and questions on Facebook go unanswered. The one way social media strategy is atrocious and absolutely unacceptable. I know I personally hate it when I post on a brand’s Facebook wall and they don’t answer or I tweet a complaint or concern or even a complement to a brand and they never respond.
Fortunately, not all brands are guilty of one way social media. I’ve had some amazing experiences as well, we were in San Francisco and walked into the Boudin Bakery, famous for San Francisco sourdough bread. My wife checked in on Foursquare and auto-tweeted her check in, and immediately got a response back from Boudin asking “what did you buy” a conversation ensued across multiple tweets. I was in San Diego at the San Diego Delmar Marriott and I checked in on Foursquare and auto-tweeted and the next thing I got was “It sounds like your having a good time, I hope everything’s okay with your visit”. Some brands are engaging while others are not.
Where I live we have a chain of convenience stores, Maverik Country Stores, I’ve tweeted several times to them, some positive comments and some negative comments. I have also made some suggestions and basically my tweets go unheard, no one recognizes that I’ve taken the time to make a comment. If they were harnessing the power of their customers they could certainly make a better operation and arrive at a better business in the long run. I would have to summarize this by saying yeah, if you’re going to engage in on way social media you are probably better off to stay on the sidelines. If you’re going to get in and play, play full out, pay attention to your platforms, monitor your comments and respond to things that people say. You must address problems that are raised in the various platforms. You cannot treat this like you treat the newspaper where you put an ad in the newspaper and walk away where you run an ad on the radio and you don’t have to worry about people talking back to you. So you have a decision to make, get in and play full out or stay on the sidelines but playing only half the game will most certainly result in a loss for your brand and your company.