Social media is pointless for companies. According to a 10-year social media study at Northwestern University’s Medill School in the Integrated Marketing Communication Department, social media users do not use social media seeking products and they have no brand preference. Professors Don E. Schultz, PhD, and Martin P. Block, PhD, conducted this survey and concluded that social media users will not become brand loyalists because people use social media simply for “social purposes.”
So is social media just a wasteland of meaningless social chatter?
No, says Dave Kerpen. What companies should do is join the social chatter and view that chatter as an opportunity to learn more about people. Kerpen is the founder and chairperson of Likeable Media, a social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm handling the social media presence for more than 200 companies. And he’s also the author of Likeable Social Media, a book of social media strategies. The real reason why companies are failing at social media is due to their incapability or unwillingness to just shut up and listen.
Like with any other type of conversation listening is the key to a successful interaction. Kerpen’s latest book Likeable Business explains how companies can listen to and benefit from the social chatter.
“Likeable Media has grown over 2,000 percent in the last five years,” says Kerpen, “and I credit listening as being a big part of that growth. Social media allows for better listening than ever before.” Think of social media as an impromptu focus group, a place to find out what people need or wished they had. Listen to their problems. Listen to their interests.”
Companies need to listen with the intention of understanding, considering, figuring out what is important to people. Kerpen offers Blockbuster LLC’s bankruptcy as an example of a company that didn’t see the value of social chatter.
“Blockbuster failed to listen to the massive negative volume of tweets and Facebook posts about their late fees. Had they been listening and paying attention, they could have adjusted their business strategy earlier and avoided their downfall to Netflix.”
When Netflix experienced its own massive negative social chatter about its decision to split into two companies, Netflix listened to the chatter and nixed its plan solely because the plan was unpopular with people.
Kerpen admits he used to be a poor listener and had to learn how to listen. “You can work on listening. The best way to do it is to practice. Measure how many minutes you spend listening versus talking in any given meeting or conversation. Practice asking questions instead of giving answers. Those who excel at listening talk only when necessary.”
Yes, people use social media to be social and are not interested in hearing any business marketing spiels. But there is business value in that social chatter. It’s an opportunity to listen and find out what people really want. And when your company isn’t listening to the social chatter your competition is.
This was a guest post by Bridgett Gayle.