- Even When You Aren't Listening, People AreTalking About You
- Missing Out on Opportunities to Converse
- User-Generated Content and Media Give More Control to the Consumer
User-Generated Content and Media Give More Control to the Consumer
With the advent of user-generated content and media—and the ability to share any of it via social media sites on the Internet—companies have to be aware that these conversations exist and that they really have no control over them. Trying to control the conversations can only result in revolt by said communities and more bad press than any company could ask for. Listening and actively participating is a company's best course of action when discovering any kind of conversation in the social media environment.
Being humble when you first discover the conversations and trying to enter and participate in them is key. Just because you own the company, product, or service doesn't always mean you know everything about how your customers find value in it. Sit back and listen first; ask questions and then offer advice or information in a way that doesn't offend the community. The last thing you want to be marked as in these communities is a "marketer" or a "know-it-all."
Understanding that these conversations are going on is the first step in social media planning. The second step is finding your audience and understanding how and where members are having these conversations. From there, you can plan a strategy that involves getting engaged in the conversations in a positive manner.
No longer can companies afford to ignore social media or play the "we did not know" card. Consumer-generated content is having wide-ranging effects on both the perception of a company and whether a purchase is eventually made. These effects are not immediate, but somewhere along that decision cycle, a conversation in social media will most likely have had an impact on the purchase decision.
The question now becomes, can your company afford not to participate in the conversation?