Growth Via #SocialBusiness : Why Businesses Are Stranded

Just Do ItI discuss #social strategies with many businesses. Everyone understands that it is the way forward. Everyone understands why it has to be sooner than later. But almost everyone takes no action and gets stranded with the decision. They do not move forward. Often during the discussions I hear the reasons.

I talk about mapping their current practices to digital equivalents. That is not easy with their current practices.

Some of the reasons I generally see are:

  • Businesses are not transparent with their employees/customers/stakeholders/partners.
  • Business owners want total control of the situation. They fail to realize that customers don’t need their permissions to talk about them.
  • The team knows they are not good with customer service.
  • Businesses know they are not sincere.
  • They know they do not have great products.
  • They know they want to retain hierarchichal structure with total control.
  • Most of them think customer education will make it difficult for them to sell/serve. So they don’t want to initiate customer education. They think explaining about their products/services, in a way to sell them, is customer education. They are so naive sometimes. They want to wait out till customer learns on their own.

They are more afraid that their not-so-good face will come out openly and hit them badly. They ask me how they can control things. They want to know if there is a way to project only the good face. They ask me if they can partially do whatever. They ask me who will take responsibility.

They are right not going #social with these drawbacks. #social is not a plug-in.

I tell them how they can start and change their businesses using #social and use it as an opporunity to both correct the drawbacks and also to have their dream fulfilled towards the future.

Is There A Plug-in For #SocialSuccess?

 

I visited a company who wanted to listen to me on the ways to use #social for their existing business. As usual, I started with my one-slide Ramayana (I picked up the slide from the internet) and also showed one slide #socialsuccess theme prepared for them and detailed the rest of my ideas. Since the company is a large one and the directors of the company are well-versed on many things, my job was easy. They already knew all the “blah blah” about #socialmedia. They are also extensively using it personally. They agreed that using-personally and building-a-brand-on-it are two different things.

Now you see, it was so easy to talk to them.

The crucial question they had: who will do it? Who will implement it?
My simple answer: All of them together.

My take was:

They should map the existing success steadily into digital prints. At all levels. This will give the necessary confidence.
They should look at integrating the whole company with #social. Not necessarily all at one go, but eventually. But the integration thought process should be there from day-one.
They can choose areas of experimentation within the businesses and start somewhere to learn. Then roll out.
They can start internally and slowly move out externally(customer-facing activities).
In all of the above, they should concentrate on “conversations” be it internal or external.

We discussed many examples and some examples that I could think of from their own domain,I gave. They were too good and hence could understand it completely.

Will they move forward? They might.

If they dont, it will either be because of reluctance to move(let-us-wait-and-see-kind) or the belief in that myth of a plug-in called #socialsuccess which they will continue to look for and loose more time without realizing that there is no plug-in called #socialsuccess that a business could use readily.

I am happy from the time that we need to tell businesses that they need #social for business we have moved to how/who/when kind of questions.

A Secret That Works Well For Me

MindLet me quickly share a secret which works well.
I have been working with #socialbiz (short for Social Business) advisory services and with SME customers in many parts of the world for almost 5 years now in a full-fledged way.
Most of the times customers agree to everything I say but finally ends up with
“I am not yet ready for expenses”
It is always this, when it comes to #socialmedia.
Many of us would agree that it is not true, but we need to accept customers’ answers. What is the way out?
My way out:
I tell them: Ok. I will accept “what you can pay” or “free for certain amout of time” with two riders: 1. I will deal with only the decision-maker while working with your project or company 2. You(the decision-maker) have to put in your time and learn with me.
This is a beautiful filter. If the first objection is false, then customers will find another excuse for this and hence they are not worthy enough to cater to.
If the first objection is genuine, they will take my offer. Once they spend time and learn with me, there is no going back and understand the significance of what I am saying and see the value-for-money. So I win over the client and the trust that develops through this method is long-standing.
Its a win-win situation.

A Lecture On Social Media And Its Impact In Business

YES Chennai 2014

I was invited to give a lecture by YES Chennai Chapter. They heard about my talk at YES Ramnad and invited to deliver this. Word Of Mouth promotion within YES.

A few years before atleast 4-5 people would argue that socialmedia was a fad and it would not work. Now there are no objections and more agreements. Atleast 5-6 people tweet and get connected right at the venue of the talk. A few people follow-up with a “follow” via social networking platforms, email and phone. Thats good sign. Everyone seems to be in agreement that socialmedia can do good and bring about the much needed growth. Hope it moves onto action and business growth in a few years. I try and put in the seed for #socbiz so that they can catch up faster.

2014: Video year for me

This time I hired a person with EOS 5D Mark II camera and had taken some clippings which I can use as promotional videos. I have been thinking of using videos for promotion and looks this year I will give it a try and learn it. This especially looks important  as I advise more customers about using videos for their businesses.

Looks an exciting year ahead with #socialmedia implementation for customers. Keep in touch to know more.

Rameshwaram Discussions X Social Media Gist

A friendly discussion at Rameshwaram about the place, where to stay, what to see and how social media is relevant for a hotel promotion. It was one of those days of north-east monsoon storms that we get usually. So it was windy and hence you might have to use an external speaker or use your headphones to listen with good volume. You can learn a great deal about Rameshwaram and can buzz Raghu who is in the video by using the above link of his hotel.

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Social Media Knowledge And Practice

If you want social media to help you grow your business, both social media knowledge and social media practice are important. One without the other will not lead you to success.

Think of lack of knowledge as being blind. Think of lack of practice as being handicapped(a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult). Now I am sure it drives the point.

Only when you gain knowledge and practice it to understand how it fits your business, you will be able to use social media for business growth.

Learn a tool-practice it-teach someone. Now repeat. Thats the way to go. Cut the hype and go for organic growth with your tools.

Remember knowledge and practice should go hand-in-hand.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Will Social Media Transform Your Business?

courtesy: fb share
To understand this question, you should not start with social media tools or the technologies behind them. You should start with primary functions of your business and see what business metrics you need to achieve as results. 
Repeatedly I get the question if social media will help achieve the next month’s target. Sadly it is a “no”.
To understand Social Media and use it well for your business, think about the following:
How your business gets done–has it changed? I mean the nature of your business and how your industry/sector has changed. List out the changes.
How you do business-has it changed? With respect to your own customers, what are the changes in your activities that have been implemented or to be implemented? List out the changes. 
How you run your organization-has it changed? What are the organizational changes that you have brought in or needs to be brought in? List out the changes. Is it in sync with the above two changes?
Most importantly, what has been driving these changes? 
This will be a good starting point to understand what changes have happened and what you should change. This is the hardest part. Understanding this change. Once you realize this change, you will easily understand it has three parts: cultural, technological and operational. The first and hardest part would be the cultural change. Rest two can be done relatively easier. The first change i.e. cultural change will help you implement operational changes. You will also realize that any one individual in one of the functions cannot bring about such changes in an isolated way. It has to be across the board. The organization as a whole has to change to get the results. 
Forget the tools initially. Appreciate the basic ideas behind them and how it can be useful with respect to your business functions. This will help you understand the tools that you need. 
Now look at what kind of social media tools will fit.  You will start understanding how social media tools can fit your business. There is no one single answer. Last few years the answers have been changing. The impacts of tools are dynamically changing. Keeping track of things and catching up has been hard.
Depending on your engagement, social media tools will help you in all-round development of your business. This will include sales, better customer satisfaction, market intelligence and productivity of your employers. The list is only indicative. You can decide how Social Media will transform your business. 
Try this method. Let me know what you arrive at. Want to talk specific about your business? Just buzz me. I will be happy to talk to you.

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Fear Of Online Social Marketing

foto: fb share
Are you afraid of Social Media? The biggest worry for marketers is that someone can detract their message. They fear that someone can contribute negatively to their existing brand reputation. They do not want negative comments. They do not want Social Media.
Consider the example of any popular product online. There will be 100s of reviews for the product. Apart from these reviews, there will be 1000s of discussions on the product. Where are they happening? Anyone with a gadget and an internet connection can talk today. Someone can talk in his blog or in a social network. Not necessarily all talk will be negative. They can also promote the product with positive statements, photos, videos and share their enthusiasm for the product. It can go both ways, negative or positive. And everyone with an internet connection can have access to these for free. Businesses also get these promotions, endorsements and loyalty free of cost. If you are using social media tools, you can monitor these and you can use these references for free in your engagement. Such positive endorsements can promote your brand much better than your messages. You can also reduce misunderstanding of your product when you monitor negative sentiments or complaints. Or even rectify and can have a better product for future in genuine cases.
A whole lot of websites today serve as a place for such positive and negative sentiments which make or break a brand. Whether you participate or not, consumers have a voice today and they are only getting louder by the day. 
Social Media is people talking to people. Hence your message cannot be controlled by you. It is not an announcement which people will just listen to. You can talk and they will keep talking too. The people whom you address are part of your message now. Hence you need balance. Their voice is equally(if not more) powerful. 
Avoiding Social Media is not the answer to this. Educating people about your objectives will help. Being transparent should help. You can handle negativity in many ways.
The only way forward is to learn and use Social Media the proper way. 

Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Bridge Your Business Objectives And Social Media

You have understood what is Social Media. You know a lot now. You know the reasons why you should consider Social Media. You still have questions.  Where and how do you start and go about using all that information for your business?
Let me share a framework I use with my clients.
Objectives
Start with an objective. Examples of objectives are Increasing Sales, Customer Support, HR, Market Intelligence, PR etc. Pick your business objectives. Pick that priority business objective(s) for which you would like to test the social tools and would like to build a strategy. 
If you have an on-going business, the business objectives are already there for your business. You are not going to set a separate business objective for-social-media-sake. If you are looking at 100 new customers for your business, dont say you want to “reach” 1000 people or want to have “a lot of followers” when you think Social Media. So start with the business objective and go forward to link every activity of yours to it as you will do in traditional methods. 
Targets
Once you have the business objective/goal in front of you, set the targets. For example, if your business objective is “increasing sales” then your target could be a specific number within a timeline. If your objective/goal is “customer support”, your target could be “reducing costs by %” or “better serviced customer ratios”, with a time frame.
You now have objectives and targets. 
Strategies
Now comes the Social Media part into discussion. Now think of strategies. If your goal is sales, then your strategy could be “x number of new customers”, “developing existing customers”, “more transactions per customer” or “more value per transaction” etc. Evaluate which tools are right for the chosen strategy. What are the methods that can be used with these tools(example online discussions, forums etc…) towards that objective. What are the metrics applicable to the tools that can be measured and reviewed to achieve the objectives. Learn what are the best practices to be followed. Implement. 
Identify people who can implement. My advise is to use qualified people within your organisation. For example if you are implementing social media strategy for customer support, then use a person who is qualified to do customer support and train them on social media tools. Avoid hiring social media experts and training them in customer support or with your domain knowledge. 
What do you think? What is your framework?  Feel free to comment. I will be happy to have a customized talk with you for your business. Call me anytime. 
Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com

Include Social In Online Marketing

Online Marketing

Is your company doing online Marketing? Today lots of online marketing initiatives are available. 
Search Marketing(Search Engine Marketing or SEM) is the process of gaining traffic from visibility on search engines. To gain better visibility, techniques which involve search engine optimization(SEO) which ranks you better than your competitors are done. This is a good strategy when you consider internet as a medium of information alone.
People do search marketing and email newsletters using distribution lists. Few people have gone beyond this. 
What Is New
Today so much of information is available on the internet. A customer can get to them easily. Customers just do not trust information unless they get it validated with peers. Today people talk to each other about the information they find.  Customers also check reviews of the products. They check for endorsements and also for negative comments, if any. Customers also pass on information to their peers. They do this using social networking tools. So internet has become social too. Hence it is better to consider social media optimization and include social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing
Social Media Marketing is the process of promoting yourself to different online communities. The dynamics are very different from traditional marketing. Here you will be talking to a collective community and they will also talk among themselves. Hence it involves listening to them in a better way and building relationships. Such listening will help you to respond well, learn new information and using it positively. Social Media Marketing works better only when you gain trust and gain endorsement of the people within the communities. Social Media Marketing not only helps in terms of search marketing but also gives you the benefit of endorsement and earns trust and immediate relationships across communities in the internet world.
Social Media Marketing is a cheaper and good alternative to traditional marketing. To get high returns, you need to learn the rules of engagement in this new media, participate within communities and use the emerging trends to your advantage. You need to work sincerely with human interactions and conversations and create a positive expression for your company, product and service. Focused effort and persistence will quickly get you good returns from Social Media Marketing.

Feel free to buzz me if you want to talk more on this.

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Originally posted on http://blog.varadh.com