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By: Kelly Dempski
A while ago, we started an R&D program called Integrated Digital Experiences (IDE), where our goal was to develop solutions for new digital channels such as social networks, and to integrate those channels to provide a single consistent multichannel relationship between our clients and their customers. The previous sentence will take many blog articles to fully explain, but today I want to focus on social networks, social media, and all things “social”, and set the stage for later, more detailed articles.
I often have the pleasure of presenting to clients and conference audiences about current trends and opportunities around social. By and large, people now recognize that sites like Facebook and YouTube can be powerful marketing channels, but I still get people who ask if Twitter is a fad, or if the excitement around social networking will die down. If you’re reading this, I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I want to spend some time answering those questions, and give some examples of why I think we’ll be talking about Facebook and social tools in general for quite some time.
Let’s talk about “social” in general. If you’re over 30, Facebook feels like a new fangled tool, but it (and many others) is simply supporting a human behavior that has existed as long as we have. We communicate, we share, we express our interests, and we align ourselves with different communities and interest groups. Facebook didn’t invent these behaviors. It simplified them and, in the process, made them more manageable and visible to others. Similarly, we can describe Twitter in Web 2.0 terms like “microblogging”, but the important part is that it’s a manageable communication channel between individuals and the people who care about them. These are capabilities that people always wanted, but technology didn’t allow us to do this in a scalable way. So, what are people doing with these “new” social tools? They are doing the same things they’ve always done, in dinner parties, postcards, fan clubs, and reunions. The difference is that they are doing it more broadly and more easily.
Now, let’s talk for a moment about businesses using these tools to communicate with their customers. I will say much more about this in other posts, but I’ll talk in broad strokes here. If the consumers are communicating on social networks in a way that is both personal and social, then the same should be true for businesses. However, many businesses are locked into a mindset of mass marketing and broadcast messages. This leads them to do counterproductive things like sending mass emails to their Facebook fans instead of recognizing the fact that their fans have established a much richer connection with them over Facebook itself. Instead, businesses need to reset their thinking to match the new capabilities of social channels. They need to adopt the mindset of the small town shopkeeper. This was a person who knew his customers’ faces, their names, their habits, and their friends. He said hello to them when they came in, and chatted about the things that were important to them. He listened to them. He didn’t scream slogans at them when they walked by.
Everything I just described can now be done on Facebook, at a global scale for millions of customers. In later posts I’ll talk more about how to do it successfully. In the meantime, ask yourself where you are on the spectrum between mass marketer and shopkeeper, and if you need to change your mindset.
Kevin’s Urgent Jobs at Accenture
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