Friday, March 20, 2009

Yes, You Totally Should

No, not sink.

Yes, you should totally be getting into social media.

It's hard for me to believe this sometimes, but there are still businesses and organizations that don't want to get involved in social media and social networking. There are still people who think, oh, that's just fooling around and it's not real work.

Yesterday, a number of us here at David went to a presentation luncheon. There we met a guy who did some work for Company X. He said the owner/head honcho didn't see the value in Twitter. I didn't press him on the specifics of the dismissal nor whether said big boss also disparaged Facebook Pages or other social media engagement, but I would assume so since their only Facebook presence was a Fan Page.

The worst thing about this to me was that Company X is completely the kind of business that predominantly appeals to younger markets and is a totally social experience. It wasn't about buying a product or a widget or a B2B offering. It's 100% consumer driven, a fun place to go and have a good time. (No more hints.)

So I have to wonder about this mindset. When Microsoft, Yahoo!, Dell Computers, and so many other big name corporations can see the value in such services, why don't small and mid-size businesses? The initial costs are low and, while the work flow demands a near constant monitoring and presence, the returns can be far greater than traditional advertising outlays.

A perfect example is Dell. During a recession economy, when even retail stalwarts like Wal-Mart put up disappointing holiday sales numbers, Dell managed to turn a tidy $1 million profit. And they did it through "exclusive" deals announced only on Twitter.

Here's the set up. Dell hooks themselves up with a Twitter page. They post special deals there, sometimes limited time only coupon codes, once in a while print coupons on short-lived pages. You sign up for Twitter and begin following Dell (or just go to their profile page when you're in the market for a computer), and you can order online with 15% or 30% discounts. That simple. This doesn't really involve Dell creating a new business model. It's the same exact same message they have all the time anyway; they've just swapped megaphones.

This is something any organization could do, and for a smaller business with a lower price purchase item, like tickets, it could drive sales through the roof.

Or you set yourself up a Facebook page, and every so often you put up a coupon link on your wall, or you send out a message exclusively to those who've become fans of your business page. The feeling of getting special treatment -- even if anyone else can sign up and get it too -- is a big motivator for people and that motivator can drive conversions and conversions drive sales.

This is Business 101 and the fact that those in the corner offices don't get it says a lot about the digital disconnect.

Yes, tons of time wasting and inane chatter take place on Facebook and on Twitter, but the way word of mouth can be harnessed there, can be driven there, can be tracked there, is going to be an increasingly potent weapon in many an organization's online toolkit. That some executives still believe they don't need to engage or that it isn't for their organization is the mark of someone resistant to change.

Here's the short message these execs need to hear: Change is coming. If you don't get out in front or at least try to catch the wave as it's cresting, you won't be surfing for very long.

You'll be sinking.

No comments: