Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Who follows who in Social Media?

Who follows who in Social Media?
Over the last few days, a thought has been circling on my mind, endlessly: Who follows who in social media?

As I understood, and according to many bloggers I regularly read and follow, today’s market is about “conversations”. We all agreed on that. And that the consumer is now The King. We all agreed on that too!

But apparently, there is a gap between what is said and how it gets done. ¿Why do I say so? I have been noticing that what I thought was supposed to be a conversation has turned, again, into a monologue: the company’s monologue!

Word of caution: I am not trying to say, neither I mean, everybody does it. Of course I don’t. As a matter of fact, there are companies doing an exceptional job, but they are the few. I want to go through, with you, what the new trends are indicating, especially among those companies which embark in social media efforts with no guide, no plan, not even properly defined goals, and they do it only because it’s trendy and everybody is doing it.

¿Which appears to be the goal of those companies just getting started to experiment on social media? To have a lot of “fans” or “followers”, who get connected with their company’s social media accounts and start to virtually eat all content, relevant or not, generated by the company. The more “fans” you have, the more “followers” you get, the more successful your campaign is going to be. That appears to be the goal.

You, as the user, get to receive whatever the company you became “friend” or “follower” with produces, supposedly with you on their mind, and that’s it. That’s the conversation. That’s why I consider it a monologue: the company proposes its content (funny, entertaining, dynamic, innovative, etc.) and you simply digest it.

And I ask myself: What’s the difference between this and Web 1.0? Weren’t we supposed to be on a 2.0 environment? Would it be that we are on 2.0 environments with 1.0 mentality?

¿Where is the other side? Where is the user? Where is the conversation?
In all conversations there must be an exchange, an interaction: I tell you something, you either agree or disagree, like it or not, understand it or not, but there is always a reaction on the other side. Conversation takes place right there when you, that have been listening to me with all your attention and respect, then have the opportunity to say what you think, feel, believe, whatever comes to your mind in regards to what I said.

At that point, real interaction happens and conversation takes place: the real heart of social media. How could it be different? It’s about a social behavior, interactivity, exchange, mutually, freely and transparent.

That is why I think something is not being done properly. We’re missing the company looking to “follow” its customer, to become “friend” with its customer. We’re missing the company which is really interested in “user generated content”, not “company generated content”. Where did we leave the “active listening” part of the social media story that is so highly recommended?

You, and your company, can also learn a lot if you become “follower” and “fan” of your customers on social media networks. There is so much to learn from a consumer who is willing to engage with you, participate, relate, because now he knows that, due to the Internet and multiple 2.0 existing tools, he’s got a voice and that you, as the company, and if you wish to, can get to know him really close, truly.

And by knowing him really close, you will have a better chance to strategically relate with him, offer added value to the relationship, differentiate yourself from competitors, and develop a long lasting relationship based on mutual benefits.

Now that you are approaching social media, or if you have already been doing it for a while, don’t forget that it’s not about your customers following you or becoming your fans. It’s about you following them, to get to know them better.

Have you ever thought about this before, while developing your social media presence? Have you been willing to follow your customers or have concentrated your efforts on having them follow you?

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