One thing we misunderstand frequently when talking about how great and amazing social media is comes from the fact that we’re thinking from the perspective of what we want the tool to do while the people who are receiving the message might be thinking about the tools in the abstract. When we talk about how Twitter forges real time conversations and delivers business value, others show up and see us bitching about a late flight and live tweeting the baseball game. When we talk about how blogging changes the world, other people are slogging through all the crap blogs indexed by Google when they’re looking for actual useful information.
Marcel LeBrun, CEO of Radian6, was probably the first person I heard use the “social media is a phone” analogy. In his case, he was talking about the need for companies to realize that some of their customers are “dialing the social phone,” and that they’d better have some “operators standing by.” (I swear, if I had extra time, I’d write an ebook out of my talks with Marcel.) He’s not wrong, and that’s why I tend to stretch the analogy even further when discussing social media tools to audiences.
Social Media Tools Aren’t The Revolution
A phone can be used to talk to Mom, talk to the grocery store, talk to customer service at your bank, and a phone can be used to give a teleseminar, to dial for dollars, to market a new product or service. This is the same with all these tools like blogging, podcasting, social networks and the like. The tools themselves are just different (better?) ways to communicate. They involve more nuance.
This Part is the Revolution
The revolution comes in how we use them. At once, these new tools allow us a one-to-many opportunity similar to what publishers and TV producers and other large scale media used to own. And at the same time, these tools have created allow us to be much more personable, more nuanced, more one-to-one in how we reach people who share the same interests as us (or our customers).
If You’re In Marketing / PR / Advertising
Getting on the new tools and blasting out the old methods will fail (is failing). This isn’t rocket science, but it is art, and it requires a different set of approaches. It’s as different as comparing the phone book to a personalized invitation. To many of you, you’re rolling your eyes and saying that I’m preaching to the choir, but if that’s so, then we’re not all singing loud enough, because there are still many people in need of better approaches, in need of teaching, and in need of concrete things to do next. If you’re on my side of the fence on this one, and if you’re out there sharing the good gospel of the new social phone, then stop saying “join the conversation.” That’s like saying, “Now dial the phone!”
Instead, share with people the creative ways to dial. Remember when call waiting came out? Remember when we first learned how to forward our phones? Share these things with people. Show them the tools, and further, show them applications for them.
In preparing for the upcoming New Marketing Summit in a few weeks in Boston, I’m most certainly going to bring this message out loud and clear. In several speeches between now and the end of the year, it’s my goal to show that it’s HOW we use the social phone that will change how business is done. It’s part of what Julien and I are doing with TRUST AGENTS.
Will you help people understand this, too? Will you share your new dialing methods? Will you teach them the difference between a teleseminar and a call to Mom? Most importantly, will you show them how to listen?
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Photo credit, jumpinjimmyjava