Social Media Principle 6 – Be Open and Be Human
“Ask not what your customers can do for you; ask what you can do for your customers” Stan Rapp
As ‘markets become conversations’ customer relationships and advertising models are changing for good. Passive consumption becomes active interaction. Monologue becomes dialogue. Control becomes collaboration. Customers are empowered, well informed, connected. Companies are becoming more transparent whether they like it or not.
It’s an environment in which the balance of effective communication shifts from being less about interruption to more about participation, less about delivering a message to more about being part of a conversation, less about what you say to people and more about what people are saying about you.
It’s an environment, which operates to social principles – creating not subtracting value, serving a larger purpose than your own, being useful, facilitating.
It’s an environment in which the more human elements matter – having a point of view, being true to yourself and what you say, being open, honest, transparent. Ford use social media to (in the words of Scott Monty) “humanize the Ford brand and put consumers in touch with Ford employees”, and regularly reach out to bloggers for feedback and to encourage the spread of positive word of mouth.
Zappos believe that their “culture is their brand” and use social media to create touch points throughout every area of their business and ensure customer service isn’t just a department, it’s the entire company. Authenticity is the currency that encourages trust, involvement, and engagement. Authenticity is what turns an audience into a following.