So, you have a great social marketing strategy built around really good content. Well, guess what? You might not be doing enough, according to one social media expert.
“Many people are focusing on content,” said Gary Vaynerchuk, author, consultant and entrepreneur. “I focus on context. That’s the battle.”
Vaynerchuk, author of Crush It and The Thank You Economy, was a featured speaker at Dreamforce, the Salesforce.com annual user conference held in San Francisco this week. He asserts that social media tools should be used to help companies make connections with customers and establish “context,” so customers relate to and continue to respond to a company on an emotional level.
“Context is the modern day autograph,” Vaynerchuk added, referring to the emotional link many people feel when connecting with a celebrity or sports hero.
Content, on the other hand, is so plentiful on the Web that it is increasingly difficult to stand out. “What breaks through?,” Vaynerchuk asked. “People’s eyeballs are spread in ways we couldn’t have imagined. The emotional equity is what it’s all about.”
The key, however, is to find techniques to create context that will not break the bank. With tools such as Salesforce.com’s Radian 6 social monitoring tools, companies can gather information from public channels and create profiles of individual customer’s interests. At Dreamforce, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines was featured in a keynote address for its use of social tools to pinpoint individual customer’s interests and then delivering small gifts to these customers as they waited in airports to board KLM flights.
But should companies need to do this?
Plus, I wonder how a company can sustain such a strategy.
Vaynerchuk, who first made a name for himself producing videos to promote his wine business online in the late 1990s, said the trick is to figure out what will work with individual customers. Some customers will be won over by freebies, while others will be more interested in information to help them do their jobs better, he said.
“It is not necessarily about giving away stuff, it’s giving something that’s truly helpful,” Vaynerchuk said.
He also warned that companies need to be careful not to jump on the giveaway bandwagon. “What if 10 brands did the KLM thing -that would be annoying,” Vaynerchuk added.
The consultant said creating context for business-to-business companies is a challenge. Often they do not know where their customers are online and, once they find them, they promote their brand instead of first engaging the customer.
Vaynerchuk said when he began promoting his wine business online, “no one knew who I was.” Instead of promoting his company, “I started talking about wine, not me,” and found other companies starting to engage with him because they wanted to talk about wine.
But it is difficult to define or determine ROI for creating context. One example from this past summer makes me wonder how a company can assess the gains or losses from connecting. This case involved Peter Shankman, a popular blogger and author of Customer Service: New Rules for a Social Media World with more than 100,000 Twitter followers.
Shankman tweeted that he would love a steak from the renowned Morton’s The Steakhouse in New York City when he arrived from a flight to Newark Airport.
As Shankman tells it, he was got off the airplane and a Morton’s employee presented him with the steak. Shankman then tweeted about this experience and received a mix of responses, with many followers praising Morton’s great customer service and others giving a negative spin, claiming Morton’s would not give the same service to lesser known customers.
So, what’s the net result? Shankman was already a fan of Morton’s. Did the steakhouse endear itself to a whole new crop of customers? Or was the maneuver perceived as too much of a publicity stunt — the kind that generates ill will.
If you have thoughts on emotional connections, let me know. But don’t send steak. I prefer cheeseburgers.