In this blog article I want to very simply demonstrate the importance of social media with a really quick example, an analogy which will show you why so many brands are engaging with their customers online.
Imagine you make cakes for a living. Your cakes are the best, chocolate muffins with oozing centres, crisp buttery pastries filled with cream, you get the idea. Now imagine a room full of one thousand hungry people all talking to each other about how hungry they are and how they can’t wait for lunch. If you send someone out into that room and hand out five cakes to five random people with a message that more cakes are available outside, what will happen? Those five people will devour their cake, the ten people stood around each of the lucky cake recipients will see what’s happening and want one of their own. Those fifty onlookers will start prancing around on tiptoes looking for the exit and asking other people around them whether they know where the cake shop is. Suddenly, in vast waves, people are swept up in the furore and before you know it everyone in the room is jostling for the exit to go and buy a cake from you.
BUT. Imagine you made pretty good cakes, okay quality but not perfect. You have lots of happy customers but you have also had a few complaints over the years. Imagine you repeated the process above with your pastries and whilst four people enjoy their cake, one of the recipients did not like it at all. You would still create a furore, however, rather than a 1,000 hungry people looking for more cakes you would have just 400 interested people because 200 people in the room have heard rumours that your cakes are bad. Those 200 have discussed this with people that had previously only heard good things about your cakes and were initially interested in buying one. They have been dissuaded.
The point is, the room of people in this example is your target market, furthermore, this room represents all of your potential customers using Facebook and Twitter right now. These people are real and they have naturally congregated in virtual locations, talking to each other, sharing photos, stories and experiences. Most of your customers, both existing and future ones, are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other blogs talking about the products and services they buy. Are they talking about you? What are they saying? Your business needs to engage with people when they are talking about you, you need to listen to what they are saying, you need to make allies of them, you need to encourage them to talk positively about your offering. You need to control the conversation.