Does being on social media benefit businesses? Sure it does. But the fact you’re online doesn’t guarantee success. What matters is how you use social to build a relationship with your customers. And according to social innovator Rich Simmonds, that relationship has very little to do with social media savvy, and everything to do with respect.
“Business has had the advantage of controlling the customer relationship for many years, but this arrogance is eroding away to the point where real connections are all that matter,” Simmonds says.
“This can be likened to the rich arrogant husband who thinks he has all the control because he has the money and his partner should simply listen. When she wins 10 million dollars in the lottery, do they still have a relationship?”
For Simmonds, the customer-business balance is a special one that hinges on respect. “It’s important for businesses to remember that social media consists of two words - social and media,” he explains.
“Social is what we are as human animals, we want to connect and we have a need to be recognised,” says Simmonds. “Media is a disruptive force which has no regard for you. Its aim is to interrupt and get your attention, much like a rude person who wants to talk before you have finished talking.”
When putting ‘social’ and ‘media’ together, Simmonds says it is important to keep respect at the forefront – one of the reasons why your word choice matters on social media. “Life is about relationships and if we use social media to be rude and disregard others, it is simply media and there is nothing social about that.”
A Cape Town-based public speaker and changemaker, Simmonds makes it his habit to study the intricacies of social relations. Many of his observations can have huge benefits for those trying to build an online relationship with customers.
We asked Simmonds to give us five tips for businesses on social media:
- As yourself, ‘What is the advantage for the customer?’ Don’t think about how you can con them into falling for a so-called ‘great deal’, rather put value in the proposition you are going to communicate.
- Are you listening to what the customer is saying and what they are not saying? Listen with your heart and if you cannot listen with your heart, employ people who are clever enough to do so. They will save your company.
- Connect with people! Spend part of your day connecting meaningfully with someone new, and in a year you’ll have 365 new connections.
- Use the strengths within your organisation and utilise different personality types. The culture of the people within the company is important. Allow this culture to influence your community and the world.
- Express gratitude and thank people who are part of your business daily. This applies to the internal customers who work for you and the external customers who use your service or product.