Upon returning from Social Media Marketing World in San Diego last month, I find myself further questioning the role of social media in business.
Without a doubt, this has to be one of the most exceptional conference experiences on the planet. Michael Stelzner and his team at Social Media Examiner know how to put on an amazing show and the networking opportunities alone – including the opening night party on the USS Midway – are worth the 13 hour flight from Australia.
But out of all the content shared at the event, it was the overall conversation around social media that seemed a distant narrative to only 12 months ago.
No-One Is A Social Media Expert
If anyone knows a thing or two about marketing, it’s Mark Schaefer. In addition to his 30+ years in marketing, Mark has a portfolio of fascinating accomplishments which includes two graduate degrees and four best-selling books used as texts at more than 50 universities. On top of all this, Mark is just about the nicest guy ever – he is the consummate professional and a true gentleman.
During his presentation on day one at Social Media Marketing World, Mark said:
“I’m not a #socialmedia expert. I’m a student.
I believe there are more lessons in this comment over anything else Mark shared in his presentations.
Discovering what content works for your company on social media is a marathon not a sprint and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, something big happens, and you’re left scratching your head as to why your content isn’t cutting through anymore – remember Facebook reachpocolypse?
In my opinion, this is something that brands and marketers will continue to struggle with as long as social media is part of the online landscape. We all need to be comfortable with the fact that the only guarantee in social media is change and the only solution is our hunger for learning.
You Can Go Broke Focusing On Engagement
Day one also featured the refreshing authenticity of Chris Brogan. Chris is the author of multiple best-sellers and speaks all over the world on the topics of marketing and business. If you have seen Chris speak before or if you follow him on social media, you will know that he tells it how it is – no filter.
In his session titled How to Set Up a Content Framework That Serves Your Business, Chris argued the point that focusing on ‘Likes’, shares and comments is not a strategy.
“My bank doesn’t accept likes. – @chrisbrogan #smmw15”
You can’t attend a conference, workshop or seminar these days without a trainer or consultant telling you that social media is all about engagement. Although these numbers are important, they are merely the bridge to what truly matters in business – revenue.
I believe Chris humorously reinforces the point that you are wasting your time on social media if you achieve no business outcome as a result.
Customer Service Is The New Marketing
In 2013, I was part of a team responsible for conducting a mystery shopping project with consulting firm Real Estate Dynamics. Posing as a prospective client looking to engage the services of a real estate agency, we called 138 offices across Queensland and New South Wales to measure customer service levels, sales skills and knowledge of best-practice.
These are just some of the more sobering results:
- One (1) agent asked for a phone number.
- One (1) agent followed up on the initial enquiry.
- 100% said they had an agency prospectus, but only 67% sent one.
I know what you’re thinking – yes, it is abhorrent. It’s well documented how little trust the public has in real estate agents so these figures shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
We’ve reached a time where people aren’t comparing the service they get from your company with the service that get from your competitors anymore – they are comparing the service they get from your company with the service they get everywhere. Some industries have embraced the mindset that customer service is the new marketing and they are wowing their customers with new experiences every day. By doing so, they are not only making it harder for their competitors, but they are making it harder for companies in all industries – including yours and mine.
In the final keynote of the conference titled Hug Your Haters, my good friend Jay Baer shared the results from research he conducted in partnership with Edison which shows an alarming disconnect between common business practice and consumer expectation when it comes to customer service – both online and offline.
I believe the message of Jay’s presentation is that people who complain have invested their time and energy to voice an opinion – which is far better than the silent apathetic group in the middle. Complaints are something you can respond to – silent apathy is not – and it is with this level of transparency that we can continue to stay relevant to consumers.
One such example of a company doubling down on social service is KLM Airlines.
In his keynote, Jay cited that KLM have around 150 full-time staff dedicated to social media and a big chunk of that team has the sole responsibility of responding to consumers questions or complaints.
Social Media Marketing World was an amazing experience and even though we’ve returned home with memories and new friends that will be relevant for a lifetime, the content might not be – so we will definitely be back in 2016, 2017 and beyond. I encourage anyone who has customers (which you do!) to invest in the future success of your business by making the trip to sunny San Diego next April.
Are you coming with us?