For the past four years, your New Media Evangelist has had the privilege of helping hundreds of business leaders wrap their heads around the profound changes that new communications technologies are inflicting upon corporate communications processes. During my talks, most agree that the world is changing, but there’s always someone in the audience who says something like:
“I hear you, Ron. But my customers don’t use social networks.”
In the past, I’d try to reason with them. Today, I just restate the observation as a question. “None of your customers use social networks? Seriously? Isn’t that like saying that none of them talk, eat, or breath in and out?”
People are social beings. We crave connection and have always used the tools of the day to satisfy that need. In the past, we’d gather physically, through faith communities, sporting events, and trade organizations. Over time, we adopted new technologies that allowed us to network without a physical presence through devices such as the telephone, CB radios, and email. Today, web-based social media tools simply offer us more choices to network.
Do all of our customers have a Facebook page, use Twitter, or read blogs regularly? Of course not. But the odds are that they know someone who does and then it’s only a matter of time before they watch a YouTube video, get an email with a hyperlink to a user-generated product review, or receive an invitation to Linkedin. In any one of these cases, a customer is a simple mouse click away from adding a social media tool to their existing social networking outlets.
I’ve found that those who claim that their customers don’t communicate with other humans using Internet-enabled tools are actually making a comment about themselves. They don’t want to change, preferring to complete today’s tasks with yesterday’s tools.
Read the history books. That strategy has never been a winning one.
Photo Credit: Library of Congress