RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

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

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Filed under: Social Media

Comments

Ron,

What’s your experience with customers reaching out to companies they do business with to ask them about social media involvement? It seems to me that one thing that would help the “my customers don’t use social networks” response is if they are actively asking their partners about its use. Is it a little of the chicken or egg dilemma here?

Bob Williams
May 7, 2009

Ron,

What’s your experience with customers reaching out to companies they do business with to ask them about social media involvement? It seems to me that one thing that would help the “my customers don’t use social networks” response is if they are actively asking their partners about its use. Is it a little of the chicken or egg dilemma here?

Bob Williams
May 7, 2009

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the comment.

Historically, customers have always demanded that the companies they patron use the technologies of the day. The telephone, the toll-free number and email are all historical examples of technologies that became a “checkmark” for any serious business.

These customer demands can come in two different ways, though:

1) “Active” where they ask for their vendor to use a specific channel

2) “Passive” where they vote with their dollars because the competition offers help on the channel and your company doesn’t.

I’m wondering if Twitter will become a checkmark service for business. With example-after-example of corporations answering customer and prospect questions on Twitter, at what point does conventional wisdom just “assume” that all serious companies are using it, and those who don’t have been dropped from consideration?

ronploof
May 7, 2009

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the comment.

Historically, customers have always demanded that the companies they patron use the technologies of the day. The telephone, the toll-free number and email are all historical examples of technologies that became a “checkmark” for any serious business.

These customer demands can come in two different ways, though:

1) “Active” where they ask for their vendor to use a specific channel

2) “Passive” where they vote with their dollars because the competition offers help on the channel and your company doesn’t.

I’m wondering if Twitter will become a checkmark service for business. With example-after-example of corporations answering customer and prospect questions on Twitter, at what point does conventional wisdom just “assume” that all serious companies are using it, and those who don’t have been dropped from consideration?

Ron
May 7, 2009

I led a session on Social Media at an Ingram Micro Partner Conference in Dallas yesterday. During the 30 minute session, I spoke to other business owners that were not sure if their customers used various networks. The bottom line is more and more are doing so every day, and they do follow. So do your vendors. Ron’s strategies work!

Scott Spiro
May 7, 2009

I led a session on Social Media at an Ingram Micro Partner Conference in Dallas yesterday. During the 30 minute session, I spoke to other business owners that were not sure if their customers used various networks. The bottom line is more and more are doing so every day, and they do follow. So do your vendors. Ron’s strategies work!

Scott Spiro
May 7, 2009

Ron – A little tardy in getting my comment posted here, but yes, this is also what I hear. But how’s this: a client yesterday who saw my data on Twitter demographics and unique monthly users said “I don’t believe your data.”

Is this skepticism or is this denial? If the latter, we need to move these companies through the five stages of grieving and get them to acceptance!

Julie Wright
May 9, 2009

Ron – A little tardy in getting my comment posted here, but yes, this is also what I hear. But how’s this: a client yesterday who saw my data on Twitter demographics and unique monthly users said “I don’t believe your data.”

Is this skepticism or is this denial? If the latter, we need to move these companies through the five stages of grieving and get them to acceptance!

Julie Wright
May 9, 2009

Julie,

They may not believe the demographic data, but calling up search.twitter.com and typing some of their industry terms might help convince them. Are people talking about their company? Their competitors?

It’s funny that you mention the five steps because I have a half-completed blog post based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s On Death and Dying.

You just gave me the inspiration to finish it up!

ronploof
May 9, 2009

Julie,

They may not believe the demographic data, but calling up search.twitter.com and typing some of their industry terms might help convince them. Are people talking about their company? Their competitors?

It’s funny that you mention the five steps because I have a half-completed blog post based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s On Death and Dying.

You just gave me the inspiration to finish it up!

Ron
May 9, 2009

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