We are all on the receiving end of what is a non-stop tirade about how your business is not social enough and where you are lacking at becoming one. It might revolve around software, time investment or even how you are not transparent or nimble in the marketplace.
I am beginning to feel much of this is not true no matter how transparent you make yourself. It was summarized well by Jason Falls at a recent speaking event and then the dinner after when a lot of this sunk in.
Much of social business is not so much about what the business does on the back end, but how much the consumers know, like and trust you.
Outside of you personally being knowledgeable about a business, word of mouth is still the strongest form of recommendation engine that exists. Starting with friends and family and moving into the concierge at the hotel, they tell you based on knowledge and experience where to go. You then know of it.
Sure, the business can have banners, Twitter accounts, Facebook fan pages or other forms of social media. But until you experience it or someone close does, you do not know it. Certainly there are tons of places you pass daily or have read about, that you wouldn’t claim knowledge.
You might refer the fact that “my sister went there for dinner” which moves into knowledge. Otherwise you say I pass that place all the time, but I know nothing about it.
After knowing a place well enough to try it, you make an instant assessment of countless areas of your experience. Any portion is scrutinized and you form some mental scoring that balances into like or dislike. This result gets transposed back into knowledge and passed on to others building the cycle ad influence.
The like portion of this formula is crucial to the trust and recommendations. If it fails, there is no trust and bad recommendations are passed along as dislike. A pleasant experience that is had one to numerous times moves you along to the final portion.
Once you know a business, person, site or whatever and like them, the comfort level rises and minor issues are ignored. You begin to trust that you will have a pleasant experience more often that not (or never) and will gladly pass this along as like and know. As well as revisit again and again yourself.
Everyone has a small circle of trusted places to eat for lunch. It might be the speedy service, friendly staff, low cost or total combination that is always met bringing you back again and again. You then drag along other saying you know and like this place. They then gain the same knowledge and liking building their trust.
So what we are starting to hear is that businesses should invest heavily in software, analytics to gauge sentiment and dedicating resources to start being more social. What you find is that no matter how much money you throw at becoming transparent, nimble and whatever else, it doesn’t matter if the consumer doesn’t know, like and trust you first. Otherwise the message from being a social business is never received.