Initially, social media – Facebook, Twitter, et al, were started to allow people to communicate with each other on-line. Think of this as an off-line cocktail party where you could meet new people and start up a conversation. If you clicked upon something that interested both parties, then the dialogue would continue. If not, you just moved on. It was all about the social aspect of the connection.
Think about what would happen if a used car salesman was part of the group and started talking about his cars. By the end of the evening he probably would have no one left to talk to. The cocktail party is not the place to “sell”.
For many, the social aspect of the discussion will continue because that is all they want. For others, the relationship becomes stronger as more similar interests are discussed. In these situations, products and services may be discussed, but no “selling” is allowed. Sometimes an advocate may become passionate about a product they use – to me this is not “selling”.
In the business world, commercial communication channels have existed for quite a while – magazines, newspaper et al. These were one-way communication channels with the intent of “selling” in most cases.
Businesses are now adapting the social channels to meet their specific needs or objectives. Depending on the objectives there may be a fit. The right communication is still the challenge.
In this new channel, the receiver of the communication (the customer) has the choice to engage or not. This becomes the challenge for the business. The social side of the business discussion starts with education or information and not selling. This is where the importance of creative plays a big part. What is needed for the creative to motive the consumer to engage and start asking questions?
This is where emotion comes into play.
When a relationship is forming, there is a strengthening of trust between to the parties. The more they get to know about each other the stronger the bond. Rapport is building – there is more feeling towards each other. The emotion is the glue or stickiness in relationship building.
The creative has to use the emotional element as a way of motivating the engagement. Not an easy task, but a possible task when used consistently. There is a fine line between building trust and encouraging the consumer to buy the product. Build the trust first and then the customer will lead the discussion to the product and possible sale.
Whether it is B2B or B2C, we still have much to learn. We are discovering that social is a viable channel, and it is different, and it takes time to develop.