“Adapt or die”, they tell us. “If you’re not on the information highway, you will fall behind.” “People are talking about your brand and if you’re not paying attention your business is doomed.” Ouch. If this were true, millions of businesses the world over would cease to exist. But it’s not. And they’re not.
Undeniably, the Internet era is in full swing and marketers evangelize the role of social media whenever the opportunity presents itself…which it often does, especially online, but the reality of it all is that most of us do just fine with the “business as usual” approach.
A staggering number of us don’t need to “join the conversation”, simply because a conversation relevant to us doesn’t exist. The reason is simple: Our businesses aren’t ‘big enough’ or ‘remarkable enough’ to matter to any significant groups of people. So we dismiss it, at least “for now”.
And that’s where we get it wrong. A conversation does exist. No, probably not about our brand, but an alarmingly huge group of real people do flock to social networking sites at a staggering rate every single day, literally spending hours communicating with one another. And here-in lies the peach: If a conversation about you or your brand does not exist online, why not initiate it?
Social media propagandists often points to the Internet as a platform where consumers run rampant, uncontrollably perpetuating damaging slurs about brands. And while these do exist, the larger part of the audience is really just in it for their friends and themselves.
And that’s the bottom line. Social media is not (just) about brand reputation management and damage control. It’s not only about connecting with clusters of consumers and hoarding new clients. It is about building a brand that actually means something to your customers. It’s about a lasting legacy that extends beyond the exchange of money and products. Real, measurable value that makes you, and your business, remarkable in the eyes and minds of the people that supports you.
Friendship and a sense of community is important to people. And social networks have provided us with a platform to sustain that in a more effective manner than before. As it happens, business and customer relations will reform around these values.
And that is what social media is all about.