By Robert Saunders
That’s a pretty audacious statement. So if I’m going to be so bold, I better be able to back it up, right? So here goes.
We’re social animals. We like to know about the people we engage with, whether it’s on a casual level or if for business. We want to establish a level of trust for people and businesses before we invite them into our lives, or perhaps even our homes.
Before the evolution (or revolution) of online social tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, our social engagement was defined by our neighbors and circle of friends. If we needed a doctor or dentist, we would ask around and listen to what a few people had to say. If we needed a plumber, painter, or other service provider that we might allow into our homes, perhaps even while we we’re away, we would ask our social circle for their valued opinions and reviews.
Before social media, our “social realm” was pretty small. It consisted of those family and friends that were immediately around us. And our word-of-mouth requests were usually limited to just a few people. Consequently, the weight that we gave to the recommendations from friends and neighbors was considerable.
So what has changed with the advent of social media?
In a simplified view, social media has dramatically expanded our reach beyond just a few people in our immediate circle. Before social media, our word-of-mouth reach consisted of our friends and neighbors. Today, word-of-mouth reviews and comments about your business can literally reach millions. People are listening to what others say, and providing their opinions and experiences more than ever. Whether you are engaged in social media or not, your potential customers are. And most likely they are talking about your business
So imagine this scenario. You are a homeowner looking for a reliable painting company. You do a Google search for painting contractors in your area. From the first page search result, you get a list of local companies to choose from. From that list you might narrow the choices to a few; let's say three.
- Of the three companies, one is not engaged in social media. There are no comments or reviews; they are practically invisible.
- The second company has many reviews published across the web, and comments posted on the social sites. Unfortunately, they are mostly negative and the companies’ owners choose to ignore what is being said. They are in a state of denial.
- The third company is engaged. They routinely publish information about their services, including how-to tips and guides for DIY'ers. Many people comment on the company, almost all of which are positive and appreciative of the value they receive. And the company routinely joins in the conversation.
So the question is this. Which one of these companies are you going to hire, and which will be out of business in 5 years? You decide.
To learn more about the impact of social media, we recommend reading Socialnomics by Eric Qualman.
Robert Saunders is a Digital Marketing consultant serving Oklahoma City and beyond.