It's been interesting to see how the marketing portion of the blogosphere has changed over the last few years. When I started blogging in late 2005, many of the posts were of a more 'philosophical' nature. We talked about why social media SHOULD help companies better connect with their customers, simply because there weren't really that many case studies that we could point to. Those of us that were using blogs to connect with each other could see how companies could benefit, but we couldn't really point to any working examples to help bolster our theories.
Thankfully, we now have plenty of successful examples that highlight the positive changes that can happen when a company successfully incorporates social media into its existing communication efforts. But a recent post by Hugh reminded me of why social media is so vitally important.
Social media changes the way a company and its customers communicate with each other.
The average company has average customers. The company likely doesn't make much, if any, effort at actually communicating with, or understanding its customers. Likewise, the customers probably don't understand the company, or have much of an incentive to.
Which means that since neither group understands the other one, neither group TRUSTS the other one.
So the average company is spending big bucks on blasting one-way messages at their customers, while the customers get on every blog and forum and YouTube and talk about how much the company sucks, because they are blasting one-way messages at them that totally miss connecting with them.
The company is having an internal conversation about the customers. The customers are having a completely different external conversation about the company. Both groups are speaking in a completely different language, and making completely different assumptions about the other group. As expected, this leads to neither group understanding the other, and neither group really trusting the other.
But the great thing about social media is that it gives companies a way to connect with their customers. Suddenly, the participants in the internal discussion within the company, and the external one among the company's customers, have a way to interact. The language of the company begins to slowly seep into the conversation the customers are having, and vice versa. Over time, each group begins to slowly understand the other, and trust the other.
When the company begins to better understand and trust the customer, it then increases its level of interaction with its customers. This helps the company make its marketing and communication efforts more effective and efficient, because it now better understands its customers.
And with that higher level of trust comes the creation of a barrier to entry for your competitors that are still blasting one-way messages at its pissed-off customers.
Does this make sense?