As some of you know, I am not only doing my post-gradual studies about online media, but also I have also tried to educate the future decision makers on my own behalf. These can be students in universities of applied sciences in Finland. Lately, they have been various company representatives from big production enterprises to micro-sized tourism companies. One of my main tasks is to make them understand the social media as a communication channel as well as consult them to use it properly.
As I have mentioned before, social media should be open and allow users to generate information even in the social media channels of a company. Still, after several years of preaching about the conversational nature of social media channels, I am frustrated. I am always struck by the fact that even in many big companies you just stick to the old-fashioned way. In these companies information is provided by the company – and solely by the company – and you do not feel the need to discuss openly with your customers.
Thus, the information delivered is also very one-sided. It is very common for companies to tell about products or services the company of offers. Also prices – and especially lowered prices – is a good topic for them. Other options is changes in the organisation, changes in locations, annual reports etc. Very seldom can you see a message that asks opinions from customers or encourages them to share their experiences. Therefore, I have been really worried about the future of companies and I’ve been trying to figure out a way to explain this to them in a way that makes sense. Many companies have been really surprised when I suggest something like this. “It is something for the bloggers”, they say.
Social media are a cocktail party
As so it happened a while ago, that a good friend of mine, blogger VeeraBianca (@VeeraBianca) gave a good comparison which inspired to this video.
I still encourage companies to be more open and provide two-way communication. It increases the customer loyalty as such, but it also functions as a way for free marketing. If your contents is interesting enough for your current customers, they are happy to share it. And this might give you new customers.
In the end of the day, all companies should remember that whatever they think about this, social media are the cocktail party and they are only the guests.