This is part 2 of 5 of my “Getting My Learn On” series. I’ll be focusing on lessons that you probably learned in kindergarten and how they can apply to your business practices today. Check back every Friday for the next edition in the series.
One of my favorite games to play as a young lad was Chutes & Ladders. The highs of climbing the ladder to the next row and the lows of sliding down that stupid #87 humungous slide that basically ended your game. As I was thinking about how to correlate this amazing game to something in the business world, I thought it could best be described as a game of social media.
There are the highs – the connecting with a new customer or making a partner for your business. And of course the lows – having a customer complain openly on your Facebook wall or handling a customer service opportunity poorly.
Of course, when we signed up to be a part of this social media thing, we probably only thought of the good times that were going to come of it. Making thousands of connections, referrals from clients, new business swarming in – it’s going to be amazing. And, as many of us have found, it is amazing. Social media is still in its infancy and yet it has made stars out of people who otherwise were just thought of as really smart in small social circles. People who really have a passion and a knowledge for what they do can be heard by the world, not just the guy in the cubicle next door.
For business, social media really is a blessing. Social media works on so many levels for so many different companies, it’s hard to find a company that it isn’t a great fit for. You can really advance (or climb that ladder, to keep the theme moving along) your business doing a minimal amount of work with social media. The core of business is making relationships that turn into a profit. The core of social media is making relationships and communication. They are a logical pairing.
By the way, I’ve never heard of a slide called a chute, but again, I’ll stick with the theme.
One of the pitfalls about having a place for your customers, friends, etc to congregate and talk about you publicly is when you screw up – it’s going to be known. It used to be the old adage of “If you give a customer a good experience, they’ll tell 10 friends – if you give a customer a bad experience, they’ll tell 25.” Well amplify those numbers by at least 5 times that. The average person on Facebook has 130 friends. So when that pissed off customer gets on their phone and says how awful you are, they just sent a message to at least 130 people. Let’s say two of those people (with a similar # of friends) comment on the original post. Now nearly 400 people have access to your awfulness.
You have to be aware of complaints that aren’t directed to your Facebook wall or Twitter account, because they are out there. That’s why social media management tools are so invaluable. Not everyone is going to take the time to seek you out to complain. They just want to get it off their chest. And in a world where everyone has become so self-important, I wouldn’t be surprised if your upset customer would use several different methods of complaining (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, blogging, etc).
Of course, we’ve all learned that social media is really a roller coaster (or a game of Chutes & Ladders…) of emotions. There is a lot of good out there, and just like life, a lot of bad. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing. Who really enjoys watching everyone else play a board game?
Unlike the game, there really isn’t a winner in social media (outside of Charlie Sheen, of course). It isn’t who has the most followers, it’s who has the most fun.