Social Media Is Not A New Conversation

social media is not a new conversationSocial media has changed the way that we market our brand as it is that constant billboard of brand message as well as consumer reaction. The shift from the one to one communication in traditional advertising has evolved from a consumer-to-consumer conversation into a brand-to-consumer conversation. It is not a new conversation but a new means of conversation. Some brands are adopting and embracing whereas others are shaking in their boots trying to figure out why they would expose themselves in such a way. Social media marketing is not creating conversations, it is enhances the way that we have them. We have always talked about brands, just not as openly with the brand as we do now. Consumers/customers are what makes a business thrive or fail. There is not a business that can survive without money and people bring money to a business; whether that be a profit or a not-for-profit business.

Small Business Have Always Talked

Small business owners have longed for the time when they can be competitive with the larger businesses. The marketing budgets are smaller, the manpower is scarce, the campaigns are on a different scale but yet we see more and more smaller businesses emerging. Why? Because small businesses have always talked to their customers. They know them, they know their likes, dislikes … they know their name and buying habits. They know when certain people visit them what they are going to buy and have it ready. That is why people come back … the conversation whether it be about a recent happening, a  talk about the game, the kids, the new offering, etc, the conversation was there.

Social Media is Not a New Conversation

Social media is marketing and marketing costs money but yet marketing brings in money. While small business owners are somewhat scratching their head with this new ideaology of creating a conversation with social media, they are seeking guidance from the big brands on how to converse online. They have always talked to their customers but now social media is paving the way for a new conversation that reaches new people and builds relationships. Small business owners are competing with big business on establishing goals and objectives for a social media campaign to reach their target market and talk to them in a way that they always have but yet in a new medium.

Brand & Consumer Want vs Need

Social media is not new but a new way of thinking or conversing. People have always talked to each other about a brand, the likes, dislikes, the reasons they purchased or not purchased but they never talked directly to the brand on such a large scale. Brands are fearful of how to adopt social media into their marketing plan and consumers are fearful that their brand will not be where they think they should be. It is a want vs need on both sides as the brand tries to establish the need to be there to answer the want of the consumer but yet the consumer has the wanting of the brand to have a presence so they can fulfill their own need for reaching out to the brand but yet also to talk about their brands’ presence to their friends.

Traditional marketing yielded brands needing and consumers wanting. In social media, brands still want and consumers still need but also want. Consumers need the brand to have a presence so they can reach out but yet also in WOM to show people why they are a consumer through a FB page, a charitable contribution or an article.  Brands now have an audience that needs them to perform in a manner that is expected. Isn’t that really what has always been for a brand? Their product had to perform for us to buy or we would not have? Social media sensationalizes it as if they do not perform consumers have a louder voice and more folks to converse with.

Social media is not a new conversation as brands, especially small businesses have always talked to their customers. Big brands are now catching up but yet gaining ground on small businesses who do not have the resources to be taking the lead on what they have always done. Conversation, engagement and dialogue is not new, the platforms are but the fundamentals of small business are prevailing.

What do you think? Has the conversation always been there for the small business? Should everyone engaging in social media learn from them?

photo credit: mcazadi

  • It’s undoubtable that small businesses literally *live* because they talk to their customers. I’ve been in small business for nearly 10 years and their success is literally made out of their success to relate to the customers. In that local small business, a web agency and creative studio, we managed to outlive most competitors because we were one of the few studio offering a real “relationship” with our customer, at the price, sometimes, of underpricing our work in order to keep up the good mood.
    Obviously this is not applicable to big brands, ’til now at least. I feel like social media is a good thing towards that direction, even if, of course, it needs time and a good strategy.

    • GabrieleSo well said. You have captured and practiced what keeps a small business alive. The sales dollars only come when you have the customers and you get and keep customers by talking to them. Big brands are learning this with social media. It is not something new at all but it is something they are not used to. It is interesting that we are seeing where small biz owners are looking for the guidance from the big brands where they should be leading the way. I feel real strongly about this as we seem to have it a bit backwards as albeit the tools may be new but the fundamentals are not. People are afraid of putting it out there and having it there for people to read. yeah and … they are also reading when you are talking, communicating and engaging. Move past the negative and the fear and do what you do best – talk to your customers as they are very willing to share their experiences.Thanks for dropping in and sharing your thoughts. Always a pleasure having you here.

  • I love this post, Suzanne.

    I think that a lot of people are looking at Social Media with a kind of deer in the headlights stance. All of this talk about “revolution this” and “evolution that” have made people think that business is recreating the wheel. In fact though, if you do Social Media the way I prefer (and I know you do as well), it’s just enhancing the conversation part of the wheel. It’s being able to reach out to people like you never could before.

    Very important for people to remember that in the end, Social Media is just a tool. It’s a super cool tool, just like a microphone or speakers, but it’s still a tool. Use it well and it will serve you well.

    • Margie Clayman! So great to hear your thoughts.

      It is a cool super tool but we forget what it is used for as they get wrapped up in the tools themselves. In writing this post, I was thinking about the small biz owner who has survived the economic downturn and also those that were never affected and are flourishing. They did not by talking to people. People will not hire, buy, refer,etc anyone without talking to them. Those that are not talking online are handing customers over to the next guy. SM will evolve we know as within a few years trad adv will be interactive and SM will have evolved. It will happen. We will be far past where we are now but some brands will be so far gone that they will not be able to bridge the gap. SM is not a new shiny toy – it is not going away and nor should it. It exists to help foster relationships and build customer base. I say it again (sometimes I like to repeat myself) – people will not hire, buy or refer a business without talking to them.

      Love having you here and you are welcome any time!

  • Eric Mitchellette

    Suzanne, your blog and follow up are very insightful. Great thought on the future of SM; perhaps there will be a new fusion wave of media that is still vague. It would be fantastic to see even a snap shot of media’s form a few years from now.

    • Eric

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it. Social media is just starting and the evolution will unfold over the next few years. The small biz owners have always been talking but yet put them in a new medium and they freeze. It is every where, everyone will see it. Yeah like the customers were not talking before? Not directly to and with you is the difference.

      Facebook is the giant now as people are talking to their friends like an open email. There is trust with the people they are talking to despite it being in an open stream. Brands, esp small biz owners need to recognize and embrace this and get into that mindset that people will talk – you just have to point them in the right direction and lead the way.

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  • I love this post. I have worked for a great company that supports local, independent grocery retailers for over 70 years and in my time with the company, I have had an opportunity to get to know a number of amazing small business owners. Like so many others that are trying to survive in today’s economy, they are struggling against many of their national competitors; however, one thing that has helped them survive and even thrive in these tough times has been the relationships they have developed with their customers and communities.

    While their national competitors focus simply on selling stuff, these wonderful men and women take time out of their lives to get involved and make a difference in the lives of those around them. The results are mixed, but for the most part, they are loved by many and their customers are loyal to them.

    They have been doing this for generations. Social media is really an afterthought for many of them. For those that are using it, we are starting to see some great results. But their long-established offline conversations are still their most powerful tools.

    Another great post Suzanne!


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  • I strongly agree, I’m actually writing my graduate thesis on this point. Social media has made communication easier and more efficient, but the long-standing fundamentals of communication still apply to it. It is easier to comprehend social media when one realizes it behaves similarly to traditional communication, it’s the technology that gets confusing.

    • Aaron

      Grad school thesis! Big deal but so very rewarding. I was just reading on Thursday an article that talked about the need we have for communication. We ha ve to communicate really to survive as when we communicate we are creating a relationship with. Depending upon how much time we spend with the brand or the person, varies on the depth of the relationship. If we are communicating with someone from the brand in social media, we feel very connected to them and are building some sort of relationship. The brand is learning the likes and dislikes where we are learning to see where they fit in in our lives as a consumer but yet online for us to fulfill the need for communication.

      Best to you Aaron in grad school!