Social Media 101: “Push vs Pull” Theory

The phrase “social media” often confuses longtime marketers because the word “media” usually conjures up the push technique for traditional media.  Think about TV commercials, radio spots, and print ads.  Ad agencies or in-house marketing/advertising departments produce these with a message that they create and literally push them to current and potential customers through traditional outlets.

Essentially, you could use social media the same way.  You can push your products and services to your fan base, ignore their feedback, and choose to believe that you are in control of the message that they are receiving.  But I can guarantee you that this will disengage your consumers, which in time will decrease their participation on your social media profiles and even possibly lose them.  Remember from the last post that as consumers, we are spoiled now.  If your competitors are showing your targeted audience that they care, rather than just selling, then why should your customers support your brand on social media?

Instead of pushing, you need to learn to pull.  It takes more effort, time, and creativity, but in social media, this is the only way to genuinely build your community of online supporters and retain them.  And, if you have limited resources and are reconsidering venturing into social media because “it takes more effort and time”, don’t.  If you have time to travel to and attend networking events, coordinate and hold press events, and especially if you have spent thousands on a recent commercial—then you have the time, resources, and staff to make social media a success for your company.

So, how do you pull?  By context.

  1. Know your product and your audience.
  2. Research to find out what they care about.
  3. Strive to become the go-to source of information for your industry.  For example, if your product is a clothing line, strive to become the style experts of the fashion industry–offering tips and Tweets on the things that you found out in step 2 that they care about.
  4. Search through Twitter for users who might be interested in your product/service and Tweets about your industry or a related product.
  5. Start relationship-building by following relevant users who have a high probability to become future consumers.  Answer their questions, even if they’re not specifically asking you.  If they follow you back, thank them through a DM.  It is very important to NOT DIRECTLY SELL at this early stage.
  6. As you build trust between your brand and your fan base, they will automatically explore your products and services.

And that’s how you pull consumers with social media, specially Twitter in this example.  I’m not saying to not sell your product at all, but limit yourself and be conscious of how you’re selling.  Don’t directly sell to users who aren’t even familiar with your brand yet by DMing or Tweeting them links to your product or website.  Let them get to know you.  Remember, in this new era of relationship building, you have to court your consumers.

Again, if you think this is too much work, seriously think again.  You have an immediate and almost infinite amount of conversations about your industry and potentially about your product/brand that you can shape.  Can you guarantee that consumers are even watching your commercial or looking at your print ad?  How many times have you personally waited until the commercial break to go to the bathroom or flipped past the ad in your magazine to get to the article you wanted to read? With social media, you can be sure consumers will read what you say, grant it that you post something meaningful that they care about.  It’s about time that you stop pushing and start pulling.

Social Media 101: The New Era of Relationship Building

In the last post, you should have gained a better idea of what social media is and how your brand can benefit from utilizing it.  This time, let’s take a step further to explore relationship building and what it means in 2.0.

Long-gone are NOT the days of caring for your customers and making them feel special.  Quite on the contrary, now more than ever customers want to connect with brands.  Why?  Because we’re spoiled.  We have been ushered into this new wave of customer service where we expect to be wooed before making a purchase and if we happen to have a negative experience, we expect to receive a genuine apology and a sincere form of redemption.  This is where old meets new.  Since more than half of the U.S. population is on some form of social media site, it has become one of the simplest and most effective channels for brands to communicate with consumers.  And like I mentioned in the last post, social media is basically “word-of-mouth” revamped.  Anything posted on the Internet has the potential to be socially shared an infinite amount of times amongst consumers: good or bad.  Therefore, you want to be nice to the Internet public.  And by nice, I mean no BS and no over-selling.  Since we’re all now more spoiled, as consumers, we’re smarter shoppers than ever and can sniff out BS from a mile away.  Brands that are utilizing social media correctly are not just promoting their products, rather they are engaging their followers by building relationships with them.  They are starting conversations, answering questions quickly, and pulling information from current and potential customers to better their products.

You may wonder, why not remove your brand from the equation?  If you don’t have an online presence, then your consumers can’t possibly credit poor online customer service to you or even better, you don’t have to put as much work into courting consumers, right?  WRONG.  Social media doesn’t work that way.  Like the newspaper comparison, you get to publish whatever you want to whoever you want, but the same goes for your consumers.  All you need is one customer who writes, “——– sucks! Ate there tonight and had the worst customer service in my whole life. Never going back again!”  Whoever is affiliated with this customer’s social media profile will then see that your restaurant had such poor service and you may then have lost all the potential customers from that person’s circle of friends–if you “removed yourself from the equation.”  But, if you are actively utilizing social media and you caught this negative feedback, you can choose to join the conversation and attempt to make amends by saying, “Sorry to hear of your poor service at our restaurant tonight. Please email —@—–.com to let us know what the issue was so we can better serve you in the future.”  Boom.  You just rebuilt the burned bridges.  This shows that you’re conscious of what your customers think, that you care about how they feel, and that you’re willing to take extra steps to ensure better service.  This is what relationship building is all about in 2.0.

Stay tuned for the next post on the “Push vs Pull” theory of social media.

Social Media 101: What is social media and what can it do for you?

If you or your company are just beginning to venture into Web 2.0 (that’s geek-speak for this new era of social sharing through the Internet), trying to understand social media and what it has to offer may not be a walk in the park.  Heck, to be honest, most of the time, social media professionals have to remind themselves what it is, because the truth is–social media is evolving every second.  The industry is so new that if you don’t stay up-to-date on platforms and updates, you will get lost.  But, there’s also an up side to the madness.  It’s not hard to catch up, nor is it hard to understand once you get some basics down.

So what is social media?  It’s essentially a medium where people can share information, ideas, and opinions immediately to a targeted audience.  Think about a virtual newspaper, in which you are the editor and the consumer.  You can choose what you want to read about, who you want to read about, what photos you want to see, what videos you want to watch, as well as publish whatever information you want to communicate to the world, whenever you want to, to whomever you want to–all for free.  It is basically the new “word-of-mouth”.

Now, bask in all that information for a second…then think about it from a business stand point.  With social media, you have the opportunity to shape conversations about your brand.  You also have the opportunity to market research and see what people are saying about your competitors and your industry.  Plus, compared to the thousands, the average company usually spend on billboards, TV commercials, print ads, and other traditional media advertisements, social media is budget-friendly and staff-friendly.

Next time, we will explore what relationship building’s role is in social media for brands and what it means for your company in an Internet-centric world.