Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit a college class and talk about social media. Before class began, I met with the professor at a local Starbucks to get a better understanding of my audience. While we talked, I noticed that the professor exhibited similar tendencies as many of the executives that I meet for the first time–the fact that he totally dismissed the “social” part of social media for business.
I get it. Business has had 300 years to understand its relationship with with mass media, yet has only had a few short years to contemplate its relationship with social media. So, I decided to tell him a little story.
A social media story
The Ploof family has a birthday tradition whereby the birthday girl or boy gets to choose where the family eats dinner. A few weeks ago, my daughter Stephanie chose an Italian chain-restaurant known for its festive atmosphere and belt loosening portions.
Later that week, my son Bryan told his girlfriend Ina about the family celebration, but for some reason, he couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant. It frustrated him, because he and Ina had eaten there before, but no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn’t remember the establishment’s name. That’s when a race began. Who would be the first person to solve the mystery?
Bryan and Ina took different routes to finding their answers. Bryan typed keywords into Google. Ina took a more personal route by sending Stephanie a text message. Ina won the challenge when Stephanie answered with a text message of her own: “Buca di Beppo.”
This little story encapsulates the whole “business/social media” thing in a nutshell. Think of Bryan and Ina as two prospects. Both have a problem that your company can solve through its products and services.
Of the many “mediums” available (newspapers, magazines, yellow pages, search engines, television, radio, blogs, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, SMS…), Bryan chose to use “online media.” Ina chose to ask a friend. Both paths had their advantages and disadvantages. For example, had Stephanie’s cell phone not been with her (highly unlikely!), Bryan would have won the race.
What’s your customer’s medium of choice?
In the past, your prospects informational choices were limited by the trappings of traditional marketing, advertising, journalism and public relations. Today, these same prospects have access to a myriad of other sources–multiple “mediums” if you will–that connect your prospects with other sources of information, ranging from your content to knowledgeable friends.
Your job is to secure a presence in the prospect’s “medium of choice” before they go looking.