Is social media relevant to all businesses?
A continual debate manifests itself whenever I am among small businesses and we discuss social media…. ‘Is relevant to all businesses?’. Recently a local analogy was created in a meeting ‘the plumber’ and we all constantly referred to ‘the plumber’ as a way of generically grouping people who mostly focus on ‘local’ trade, I guess like most Independent Retailers? I believe that we all need to build our social presence and I hope this Blog goes some way to motivating those who don’t currently…
The world is shifting in a massive way, enabled by the internet and other technology
The world is shifting in a massive way. I have felt the rumblings since 1997 when I first became aware of the Internet and considered how it would enter all our households. I was intrigued by the transactional opportunities that were emerging and I knew that the Internet would not be ‘just another till point’, it would in fact be a revolutionary way of doing business, far reaching in it’s opportunities and threats to the high street and to anyone who was not a ‘connector’ or ‘networker’.
In the early days, 1998-2000 Thomas (husband and business partner) and I were working within the Ecommerce space, we observed those that made a decision to see the Internet revolution as just another way of taking an order, compared to those that saw it as a completely new way of building a business model and therefore built their brand accordingly. NEXT for example, they added an ecommerce facility, while ASOS grew and became a strong contender from nowhere.
Recently we have seen the banks ‘save’ HMV Stores, with bank lending. The online discussions around this are that they are just protecting 30,000 jobs for as long as they can. A worthy cause, but I sincerely hope that they are using some of this money to innovate very fast or they are taking a Corporate Social Responsibility decision to give their staff ‘social capital skills’ so that when they ultimately do lose their jobs they will know how to build their own ‘social networking presence’ and be known as a great freelance or part-time worker…
The internet has changed consumer buying behaviours too..
Jobs are changing, in line with the promise of the Internet, people now trade globally, buy online and look for advice and skills across all nations. So where does this leave the Independent retailer? We have to realize that if jobs are changing then perhaps so are buying habits.
I live in a market town; I have lived there for 21 years and have brought our 3 children up there. I love ‘local’ it is my sanity and gives me peace, calm and a feeling of belonging. I feel like I am part of an ecosystem of business and people. Do I spend all my money locally though? Well, some of it. I shop for food every Saturday morning, Thomas and I have our ritual coffee in the same place every Saturday, I buy gifts there and I occasionally buy some clothes. I am a typical working mother, life is hectic, so much of what I do is based on convenience. For this reason I want to buy many of my items based on how easy it is to buy.
Recently my husband was researching where to buy our 17 year old son his car. He researched the types of cars online and had several tick boxes for features, around fuel consumption, zero tax and low insurance. Apart from that he was open minded about the make. He went to a Car Retail park and this is what he based his decision on asking the salesman “can I communicate about this purchase via text?’. Not email, not phone calls, pure and simply text. He went to Ford, Toyata and VW. A flexible and technically with-it young guy who saw the communication choice as the clients won the order. Ross now has a VW Polo. Thomas and he built up a strong relationship via text, it was seamless as a task for Thomas, no stress and we happily collected the car 8 days later. This relationship has continued with Thomas now passing his mobile number to friends who have also since bought.
The key is allowing the consumer to buy from you the way that they want to buy
Social Media, Digital, are they technologies or are they new forms of doing business with people allowing the consumer to chose how they want to buy?
I use social media to build trust with potential clients. I never seek and order, I only seek ‘followers’. I am supportive, not transactional. My clients come from the networks that they chose to be on, I am available on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Ecademy, YouTube, and Twitter. I publish my mobile number and I am here to help. I do not fear connections, this is what the new world is about.
I my Manifesto for Digital Business Britain, I talk about a need for British Business to understand what it means to have a Digital Mindset. Not be driven by their processes and desire for an order but for businesses to understand that a change in Mindset is required, from the CEO through to all the staff. The CEO must lead this change. This is not a departmental task, based in Marketing; this is a change in Mindset that needs to be led from the top.
The last 13 years have taught me many great lessons, the greatest of all is that we have to act like a friend to everyone we are in contact with. A friend is Open, Random and Supportive © (ORS) and seeks to turn strangers into friends and friends into followers. When we have been traditionally trained in a more transactional set of values seeking Suspects, Prospects and Customers – this is quite a mind-shift, but one that I am dedicated to achieving within businesses across the world.
About Digital Britain Manifesto
For more information about how we help businesses evolve and adapt please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or you can Tweet her on @pennypower. Penny can advise you on her Business Coaching program and put you in touch with an Ecademy Digital Coach.