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Business

Your first move in social media is…market segmentation?

For most business people, social media appears to be something exotic, even alien.   Partly due to the way it is presented in the media and largely because their “older media” companies are still not sure how to sell it.   There is a big temptation to see it as a completely new paradigm.   Of course it isn’t.   It still homo sapiens communicating.   And by the way, many of those homo sapiens are your old customers communicating.

Social CRM got me excited from the beginning.   I always loved CRM systems, even when they were clunky, tiring and meant more data entry for everyone.  If the customer is king, you had better make sure you know how the king likes his eggs cooked in the morning.  Just as we strived to find ways to unify what an organization knew about a contact into CRM, Social CRM systems try to unify the social media activity with whatever else you know about a contact.  XeeSM was the first system I saw which had the concept of “touch”, in a product called “Flights”.  This is an interaction via social media which isn’t a sales pitch, but a deliberate attempt to get in somebody’s peripheral vision in order to prepare the ground.   Social media is ideal for this.   You just need to “like” their photo on Facebook and they are reminded you exist.   Which makes the next telephone call, less of a cold call.

But you still feel lost.   It is as if all your customers are suddenly out of control, tweeting, blogging and posting anything they want.   It is scary and intimidating.   I am famously quoted as saying more than 15 years ago that “if you want to sell to the Greek market, your CRM system needs 11 million entries.   For starters.”    Sure, that CEO of your main customer is important and you might want to remember his wife’s birthday and kids’ names.   But those 11,000 people that “liked” your offer on Facebook yesterday and then clicked through to it on your website might be more important.   If only you knew them…

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Business

Hello, pleased to meet you. Facebook can ruin your business.

While most of the media tries to convince business people that they should all run to use social media asap, I beg to differ.   The step is simply too big, especially for market leaders.   You make a business page for your company, brand or product?   I will use it against you!   What you have effectively done is made a media channel with all your customers for anyone to use!

Sure you could lock down the wall, but then “that’s not very social media”.   You can monitor the wall 24/7/365 but  if you take an offensive post down you might get a consumer backlash for “censorship” and “that’s not very social media”.   Despite being an early proponent of social media in business I think you really need to define your targets and then look even more carefully at potential risks.   I am not the only person being hired to ruin companies and brands through social media.

It sort of gives a different ring to the term “viral”.   You know that kitch email chain letter you received?   Well, chances are it started from someone out to hit a competitor’s market share.   It is just much easier to knock off 5% of sales from a competitor than to get a 5% increase yourself.

So yes, you need to watch what is happening in social media.   As traditional media crumbles, these are exciting times for anybody in the business of communication.   And yes, you might find that many new tools are really cost effective.   But they have far reaching implications to your organization’s structure and inner workings.   Which don’t always make business sense.   I have tried to change companies through their communication and it doesn’t work easily, especially when top management doesn’t change first in a very public way.   It is like trying to change a company through it’s IT infrastructure.

As we all talk about leaving hierarchical structures behind and how media is becoming decentralised, it is useful to remind ourselves that most companies are still very hierarchical and centralised.   And for good reason.

Several articles on this topic are available on my Greek blog – and the Branding Intelligence blog (also here).

P.S. Some people have arrived at this post through extremely narrowly targeted Facebook ads; don’t worry, you are the only one that saw that provocative material  and as soon as I see you have clicked through I will take it down… ; )