Anyone else feel like social media has taken over the world? I'm a big social media fan, I have lots of blogs, and I love discussing the benefits of engaging in social media, but sometimes I feel as if we folks who promote the use of social media don't spend enough time exploring how people did business before social media. Stop and think about it - how did businesses in the pre-web days connect with their customers?
What did those good businesses do about communication and connections? We know they used fax machines a lot. We know they talked on the phone a lot. But, those are not actions that bring you closer to your client or customer.
If we look back, we can see that companies of old attended conferences. They held events. They sponsored TV shows and held focus groups. They spent a lot of time and money wondering what their customers thought about them, and remained clueless for the most part, because customers don't really get personal on the phone or in focus groups. Customers want the face-to-face meeting (let's look at the incomparable Mary Kay and how successful she was - because she knew how powerful that face-to-face meeting was). But, they kept trying to make the connection happen, and some of them must have been successful. Else, they would not still be around, yes?
I suspect that the march of time and the introduction of new technology has improved customer communication, for most. Those businesses that value customer engagement welcomed new technology and the use of the Internet, with open arms. I'm not saying they grasped the enormous opportunity - I'm saying they saw the possibilities and carefully explored their use.
The key, however, is to remember that they did not throw the baby out with the bathwater. That is, they did not stop using tried and true methods of business engagement. They merely started looking at what they had been doing with different eyes. And the smart ones kept doing what worked, while exploring new options - they learned to adapt. The not so smart ones threw out the methods of old and rushed headlong into the future - before they (or the future) were ready.
Where are you? Are you working to understand the benefits of following good advice given by mentors who were here long before you? Are you dismissing them, perfunctorily, because they lack the skill to get you noticed on Twitter or Facebook? Are you tied up in knots wondering what to do because you feel as if social media is holding you hostage - not performing to the degree you want, while you allow your newsletter and your website to languish in never-never land?
Don't buy into all the hype. But, don't ignore the opportunity. Don't be too smart for your own good. Be open to new ideas, without trashing the old ones before their time. Be observant. Ask questions. Explore options. Find a way to meld tested methods with untested ones, and be open to failure.
Failure is a teaching tool. If you are sailing along on a smooth sea, with no storms on the horizon, you are doing something wrong.
What is it?