Why smart people dismiss social media, and why they shouldn’t – by Gary Vee

By Cheryl Koo | Education

Sep 28
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Nearly two months ago, Gary Vee visited Singapore and gave a gathering of several hundred people what he hoped was a good wake-up call. He pulled no punches and took his audience to task about wasting their time making excuses. (Of course, we included!)

The social media guru is known for hard-hitting facts, a no-nonsense style and his mouthful of curses. In the interests of keeping things friendly to a general audience, we’ve omitted that last bit, but we’d still like to share what we’ve learnt from his second book – The Thank You Economy.

Published in 2011, it snagged the number two spot on the New York Times hardcover advice bestseller list. Wikipedia will tell you that “it explores the numbers and soft factors that drive successful relationships between businesses and consumers.”

We don’t know what that means, but we do know that this book is a treasure trove of Gary’s experience in social media and business as a whole. In Chapter 3 he talks about 11 arguments that most corporations have used to justify ignoring social media. It’s been 7 years since the book was published, but there are still several points that hold true to this day.

That’s what we’re sharing here – as well as our own experiences with them.

1. There’s no ROI

Brand managers and company leaders are obsessed with numbers…But let me ask this: what is the return on investment for any kind of customer caring?

From one social media dabbler to another: the truth is that I don’t get it either. To me, the purpose of social media (in business) is the customer interaction. Facebook messaging, replying comments, even the wall posts – all these are the ways that we communicate with the public.

And that’s the problem: we can’t track the results of being ‘nice and polite’ to our customers.

There’s a definite logic that tells us being polite → happy customers → more returns…but we can’t get clear numbers. How many customers return because one of our staff went out of their way to assist them? How many new customers are made because of a comment made by current ones?

We can’t put any numbers on these interactions, but we can’t dismiss their effectiveness either!

2. Social media is still too young

The wait-and-see approach, the one most companies have used while considering to invest in traditional platforms, won’t work for social media.

With Facebook turning a shiny 14 years old this year – the entrance to teenagerdom by the way! – I think it’s safe to say that social media is no longer as ‘young’ as it was when Gary Vee’s book was published. However, many brick-and-mortar companies are still treating it as something ‘new’ to dabble in.

I think Gary Vee says it best: the longer you wait, the further the competition can pull ahead.

There are enough digital marketers out there to advocate the benefits of social media. I don’t believe all those seasoned business owners don’t get them – they’re just waiting for studies to be done and professors in the field to tell them it’s qualified.

3. Social media is just another trend that will pass

Given how spoiled they’ve been by the predictability and stability of the one-way platforms they’re used to, it’s no surprise that most business and marketing leaders have been skeptical about the viability of social media as the next big one.

Social media has changed the communications game in much less time then traditional media took. Newspapers and magazines have lasted centuries prior to radio, which reigned for 2 decades before TV, until the arrival of the internet.

Even more importantly, all traditional media has been a one-way communication. It was only until social media (not just the internet) that it became a two-way street. Before that, you had to write a letter, or call a number, or send an email to somebody. But with social media, it’s instant. And public.

If this isn’t the next revolution in B to C communication, then I’m not sure what is.

4. We need to control our message

A lot of companies resist building a Facebook wall, blogging, or starting a Twitter or YouTube account because an irate customer might post negative comments. So what?

I think that in the year of 2018, the so-called ‘control over our message’ is just a myth. With public platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn, the truth of your company’s culture, service standard, even that one employee who likes to gripe on his/her personal blog can be discovered with just the right keywords.

It’s time to stop pretending that customers have no way of learning what your company’s really like, and actually work on a) maintaining your standard or b) improving it. One fantastic way? Replying nicely and helpfully to people on social media platforms like Facebook.

5. We don’t have time/budget/personnel to keep track of what our customers say

Anyone who takes a dismissive attitude towards any customer is heading for disaster.

In the first place, the same people who say that are also the same people who won’t allocate resources for proper customer service. And there are clear enough metrics for that to show how important good customer service is.

If being a customer service executive who answers 50 phone calls a day qualifies as a full-time job, then why isn’t a customer service executive who replies to 300 Facebook messages and comments a day one? And if you have the former, why would you not hire the latter?

Unless your company has a monopoly on the industry (and even then), I sincerely advise you to rethink this viewpoint.

6. We tried it, it doesn’t work

A lot of business leaders have been willing to give a social media initiative a shot…for six months or, worse, six weeks, and they didn’t see any results…they patted themselves on the back for trying something new and then slammed the door shut…[it] makes me want to tear my hair out.

Maybe it’s because social media is such an instant thing – instant messages, instant replies, real-time monitoring – that a lot of people think that it’s an instant results thing. But I have to share the cold truth with you…social media is actually a long term play.

It’s just the newer version of an age old strategy – winning the hearts of your customers by building up your relationship with them. Relationships don’t take the moment they’re made. You have to work at it and put in years of effort.

How else would you be able to build up enough trust to turn those customers into advocates? Who would then promote you to new customers?

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