I hope that you are enjoying a deeper look at Social Business. If you have missed the previous posts on Brands or People, feel free to read those posts before this one in order to catch up on the first two areas of Social Business.
Who Do You Trust?
Now, let’s talk about the third area of Social Business: Trusted Relationships.
Trust is incredibly important in business, especially in the relationship between a business and the people that support the business. People want to know that a business is making decisions with their customers in mind. As mentioned in Social Business 101: Brands, people build their lives around specific brands and the experiences that they have with that brand. Once the brand is a part of their life, they often enter into a trusted relationship with that business. They become loyal to a product and they even tell their friends. A great value of trusted relationships.
The problem that a lot of businesses end up having over time is they make decisions that look good on paper, but in reality are devastating to the trust they have established with the people identifying with their brands.
One example of a violation of trust in the form of a breach of security, Sony’s Playstation 3 gaming network was hacked. Personal information including credit card information was stolen and this breach of security, which in reality was a violation of a trusted agreement between the business and the consumer, has diminished the trust that people have in the overall Sony brand and in their gaming network.
The lack of trust that consumers have for specific businesses sends them in search of an alternative, often a competitor that can provide the necessary trust, and in the case of personal information, security.
One of the strongest benefits of trusted relationships is the ability to build a core group of informal product marketers or brand evangelists. As people become loyal to your brand, they integrate the products into their lives, they buy the latest and greatest widget that you have to offer, and they even tell their friends. They become evangelists for all that is good about your business. This is known as Social Media Word of Mouth Marketing and it is gold.
However, turn your back on a customer, especially one that understands the value of “shouting from a digital soapbox,” and watch out. They will use their leverage and voice to tell others how they were wronged. However, this potential backlash should not discourage businesses from being social with their customers. The truth is that they have an obligation to address the concerns and issues raised in a logical and public way. This shows that you are listening to your customers, willing to admit when you have done something wrong, seeking to engage and not react in order to right wrongs that are the result of being a business made up of fallible human beings.
Internal Trusted Relationships
Trusted relationships within companies is equally crucial to the trust that businesses develop with their consumers. Whether you are looking for someone knowledgable in a particular subject matter or need a technician to address concerns, building a network of internal trusted relationships is paramount to an effective Social Business.
By understanding the corporate culture and knowing how to identify key players, you set yourself and others up for success. You share the workload, delegate to appropriate workers, and model characteristics of leaderships by getting stuff done that you alone are most capable of completing.
Sharing is a Good Thing
It’s important to remember as you seek to build internal and external trusted relationships that sharing is a good thing. We were taught in kindergarten that sharing was idealistic and important. Whether it was your crayons and paste or making sure you brought enough for every one in the class, sharing was implanted in our minds as good. But as we went through the education process, got our first jobs, entered into a career, we stopped sharing and held on tight to our areas of expertise and our knowledge. We became isolated and scared that if we shared what we possessed, people would steal our ideas, eclipse our abilities and leave us hanging out to dry.
So, I’m going to say it again. Sharing is a good thing. An effective Social Business excels in sharing. Specifically in how they speak, the way they listen to others and for opportunities, and most importantly, the way they engage in collaborative efforts with others.
As you begin to see that Social Business is not a new way of doing business, it’s doing business, realize your brand value, acknowledge the people that make up your business and your consumers. Establish internal and external trusted relationships. This is what it means to get social as a business.
Now that you are social. It’s time to do business.