One of the things that has always bothered me about how we (consultants and agencies that sell social media marketing services) talk to companies about social media is that the conversation almost always starts with telling the company what they are doing wrong.
They aren’t being ‘human’ enough. They are being too self-promotional. They don’t ‘get’ social media and they don’t do a good job of connecting with their customers. The message we seem to be sending companies is ‘We aren’t going to get anywhere until YOU fall on the sword and admit that your approach to social media is dead wrong. Then and only then, can you learn how to do it the RIGHT way.’
Yes that’s being a bit overdramatic, but I think we need to consider how our message is resonating with the companies we are trying to reach. If you take a CEO that’s already highly skeptical of the value of social media, then tell him that everything he thinks he knows about social media marketing is dead wrong, then it’s not too hard to imagine them shutting down and not listening to what you have to say.
People don’t like hearing that they are wrong, and they don’t like being talked down to. We as consultants need to remember this and respect the skill it takes to build a business and remember that social media is just one tool in a toolbox, and not the Holy Grail.
It’s not always about the message you are sending but the way you deliver that message. It helps to remember the other person’s point of view and business reality.
Martyn Chamberlin says
Oh Mark I LOVE that picture! That demonstrates the disconnect perfectly.
I totally agree with you.
But if we shouldn’t approach it this way, how should we tell businesses they’re doing it wrong? Solutions….
Oh, and thanks for starting #blogchat. I got in on it for the first time last night. It was awesome.
Heather Whaling says
Hi Mack, it’s been a while since I’ve commented here, but I saw this post on Facebook and wanted share my two cents. I come from a PR-agency background, where I was always taught that we should never say “no” to a client or prospect. (That’s not the same as always saying yes, BTW.) If a client has bad idea or if they’re are veering toward a questionable tactic, it’s our job to provide alternative solutions and explain why Option B is a better path.
The same premise can be said for social media. Especially when we’re first starting to work with companies, we don’t know the ins and outs — nor do we know why certain decisions were made. They decided to moderate comments? Some SM consultants will call that shameful. But, I’ve worked with clients who will only consider blogging if they can moderate comments. If that’s what needs to happen to begin to establish a comfort level, then I call it a good starting place.
None of us should be so arrogant that we feel it’s our place to go into an organization and proclaim that they’re “doing it wrong.” They very well may be doing something we disagree with, but that’s why they’re paying us. It’s our job to educate, offer guidance, provide alternatives and help them make the best decisions.
Mack Collier says
Thank you Heather, those are excellent business points. I think we all need to remember the POV of the companies we are trying to connect with. We need to talk to them in terms they understand and appreciate. I think when you start an exchange by telling someone that they are wrong, that they tend to stop listening.
Sometimes it’s not about being experts at using social media, as much as it’s about being experts at being social 😉
Gavin Heaton says
And your clients also know their business well. You need them on-side to get the best results. In many cases, businesses have been “social” for years. Really what we need to do is show how technologies can take that same social approach and amplify it.
Mack Collier says
Gavin that is a GREAT point on showing how social media can amplify existing business communication efforts. This is exactly how I get the ‘buy-in’ with clients, they are scared to death of learning something new that’s going to take more time. I show them how using social media will make their existing business processes more effective and efficient. How they will ultimately SAVE time and money by using social media.
Fabulous point Gavin, thanks for stopping by!
Network Sommelier says
Great post! My partner @parissab is a regular follower of your blogchat.
I was writing my weekly post yesterday when I saw yours(my writing no where as great as yours Mack) but I posted the following(and with your permission I posted a link back to yours):
Are you solving the right problem?
Here are 4 steps in the process to watch out for:
1) The process of finding the right problem is widely mis-understood
Most vendors don’t spend enough time understanding the problem a business owner faces. When they ask the business owner about a particular problem, they have one thing in mind. To sell the business owner their product. That’s good for the vendor but not necessarily good for the business owner.
I came across a great post from Mack Collier earlier today. Here it is(definitely check it out when you get a chance). Most vendors try self promotion without really understanding the true nature of business owners existing problems. Some really don’t have the skills to dissect problems. Some only address one and only one problem(lack of training or specialization). For example, an SEO person is only interested in selling SEO solutions. Now if the sales and marketing folks in the company are not good at qualifying/disqualifying incoming leads, building relationships, and understanding the real problem, it does not matter if their web site is ranked number one on an “SEO optimization” process. A true consultant and what we call a “trusted advisor” has to make sure he/she is adding value(at all times).
The actual blog link for the rest
Mack Collier says
Thank you sir, I commented on your post!
Gabriele Maidecchi says
This is the kind of mistake I see the most around, even sometimes within my own company. I prefer to help people improve what they have rather than saying they are doing it wrong. A negative statement isn’t a good way to start a business relationship, ever.
Mack Collier says
You are so right, Gabriele. And I think in many cases, so many CEOs and business owners are already skeptical about social media, so they already think it is ‘wrong’. If I think come to them as the ‘social media expert’ and tell them THEY are wrong, well you can imagine that they aren’t going to hear a word I have to say.