If you are of ‘a certain vintage’ then like us you will remember ‘the good old days’ back in the 1970’s and 1980’s– when  if we wanted to join in the conversation at work about what we had seen on TV the previous evening we had to actually stay at home and watch it!

There was no Sky+ then, just the ‘odd’ Betamax or VHS VCR.  Neither did we have the benefit of being able to watch our favourite shows on i-player and we didn’t have Facebook, Twitter or any of the other Social Media platforms to discuss things with our friends.

Most of us didn’t have a mobile phone, let alone email – the ‘Blackberry’ and the ‘iPhone’ were a long way off.  In the mid 1990’s however email became more widely available (as did better quality, more reliable VCR’s) and this new technology triggered a major life change for most of us.  We no longer had to do things in ‘real-time’, i.e. when other people dictated when we did them, we could do things in our own time – when we wanted to do them.

As business owners, it seems ironic therefore, that the latest technology is making it harder for us to do things in ‘our own time’ – we now have to do things when our customers want us to do them.

Many of us will have seen the dreadful images of the devastation caused by the Earthquakes and Tsunami’s in Japan recently.  We now expect to see these major world events almost as they happen.  It is much the same in business – creditors are now expecting you to pay them electronically using the ‘same day’ payment system.  We have all lost the ability to be patient and wait for things to happen.  Your customers and prospects are equally impatient and expect what they want to be available to them when they want it.

Wise business owners are aware of the importance of their customers – they spend time engaging with and listening to their customers and take an active part in social media.

This involves much more that adding  nice Twitter,  Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube logos to your website and creating links to your social media pages (if you have them).  Successful, customer centric businesses want to become part of their customers daily lives.  They constantly seek new ways to promote themselves to their target audience.

Given that all our customers want us when they need us – not when we want them to need us – how well do you deliver against their expectations?  How about a little test – if a customer sends you an email enquiry on a Saturday, when would you respond to them?  Would they have to wait until you get back in the office on Monday?  Do they have to do that with your competitors?

If you really want to drive your hard won customers to one of your competitors try one of these classic own goals scored regularly by inwardly focused businesses:

  • Make sure you forget to turn on the ‘live chat’ function at the peak times that your customers are looking at your website
  • Don’t publish your telephone number prominently on each page of your website or blog as this could mean that your staff would have to spend too long taking telephone orders
  • If you do show your phone number, have one of those wonderful ‘press one for accounts’, press two for administration’… type telephone systems – your customers will really be impressed with that.
  • Don’t bother to join any Social Networking Groups – they are just for students and people with no work to do.
  • Never add any new content to your website – people will know what you do, they don’t need telling, you have been around for a long time.
  • Don’t have any ‘calls to action’ on your web pages – it is very impolite, almost vulgar, to ask for business.

Joking apart, Social Media is here to stay – what started as a small little noise in the corner is now the major buzz on the web – it is the present and the future.

Social Media gives your customers more choice and more control over the sales process.  Customers like this and if you are not giving it to them they will go somewhere else, to another business that is!

Isn’t it time your business started joining in the conversation?  If you would like to have a better understanding about how Social Media is being used by UK businesses why not attend one of our Social Media for Business Workshops?  These half day workshops are exceptional value for money and by attending you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether Social Media could be right for your business.

If you would like more information about our Social Media Marketing services please leave a comment below or visit WSI IMS – WSI Internet Marketing Services for UK Businesses.

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