Many companies work hard to build a following on Facebook and Twitter, yet their social media presence is often quite antisocial. So says Brian Solis, author of Engage! and the upcoming The End of Business As Usual. For more than a decade, Solis has been blogging — and, more recently, tweeting (@briansolis) — about how businesses can better interact with their customers.
“The reality is businesses are antisocial,” says Solis, a principal analyst at the Silicon Valley technology research and consulting firm Altimeter Group. “There’s nothing social about their media.”
Too often, businesses get caught up in numbers — how many Twitter followers and Facebook fans they have, for example, or how many customers are checking in on Foursquare. But they’re not stopping to question whether the steps they’re taking to drive up those numbers are worth the effort or the expense.
Businesses should focus on the quality, not on the quantity, of their relationship with customers, Solis says. “You want to build a quality relationship with people so that if you say something, they do something.”
That means you don’t necessarily need to tweet 10 times a day. When you do tweet, you should provide information that your followers and customers will find worthwhile, he says. This entails more than just offering promotions, discounts, and contests, even though that may be all some customers want. Once the special is over, will customers still want to follow you on Twitter or check out your Facebook page? Will they continue to pay attention to your next tweet or blog?
When businesses appeal to people through social media, they should ask themselves what customers might be looking for when they hit “Follow” or “Like,” he says. Do they just want a freebie? Do they have a customer-service concern? Do they have ideas for how to make a product better? Businesses need to create dialog — and give customers a reason to stick around. This is especially important because, through social media, customers are more connected to one another than ever, sharing information and influencing decisions.
Savvy businesses take the time to do their homework and incorporate social behaviors into their DNA, Solis says. “In social media, like in life, you get what you put into it.”