Everyone has heard the buzz about social media.  A few brave companies have jumped in with both feet.  The majority have dipped their toe in the water of facebook or twitter, but won’t commit to go “all in ” because they fear the unknown that lies beneath the water.  And yes, there are still those “soon-to-be-dinosaurs” that write it off as a fad or decide “I built this business without tumblr, I don’t need to tweet.”   No matter where your company fits in that spectrum, chances are you are doing it wrong.

It can all be boiled down to one thing – not understanding your customer.  The customer does not want to be your “buddy.”  The customer does not want to get a discount on your unneeded product or service.  Don’t get me wrong – they will take them for something they use, but you are not going to convert them to loyal fans with some idle chit-chat.

You don’t care to reach people on social media?  You better!  They ARE the public.  They are no longer the geeks on the bleeding edge of tech – everyone from teenagers to octogenarians is there.  More importantly, they are wise to the techniques you use to sell through old media.  They tune out TV and radio, no longer even see billboards, and don’t dare to ask the last time one of them picked up a phone book unless you are willing to admit that all the huge dollars you threw at those dead tree farms was a total waste.

How do you reach them?  As I have been saying for years as a close to my podcasts and videocasts – keep it real.  Let them know what is going on – don’t talk excitedly about your new product.  Talk about the staff meeting you sat in today.  Mention how the boss’s squeaky shoes give him away when he does his “management by walking around.”  Mention REAL stories about the thank you letter sent in by a happy customer.  Don’t forget to mention the REAL stories about the “I’m totally pissed” letter sent in by an unhappy one.  Most of all – ask them how you can improve your company to better serve them.

Don’t even try to fake these as you will fail.

The real beauty of social media is that if you use it correctly, it can get real feedback from your customers.  You can learn what people really like and dislike about your product or service.  You can use this information to respond to the market and grow the customer loyalty you are seeking.

Get involved, be real and don’t betray the attention they have given you.

Chris Doelle