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  Special Feature

Social Media and Your Job at the Top

Posted 08/1/2012

By Dick Cross

It may be a little awkward at first, but presenting yourself through social media channels helps you view your business in a new light.

A lot of us tweet, blog, and monitor Facebook. But I know few who have actually processed the full impact of social media into their thinking about running their businesses. To the rest of us, “social” still feels a little disconnected. Like something we’ve added to our closet, but not an exact fit with the rest of our wardrobe.

Stay with me for the next three and a half minutes, and we’ll begin to move through that fog together!

Seeing social media as something you’ve got to do, because others, particularly younger people, do it misses the point. The challenge for us in our “Jobs at the Top” isn’t one of learning how to do it.

Our challenge is understanding what it means for our businesses. How the new era of communication changes our relationships. Mainly with our customers, but also with everyone else. Changes what they expect from us to continue to support our efforts and give us their business.

For as long as we can remember, the drivers of customer-buying behavior have been: functions, features, quality, price, service and convenience. Win on these fronts and you’ve got the business.

But social media has obsoleted that prescription. And that’s the big point … the mega message … we need to accept.

Social media has leveled the traditional bases of competition. With a tap of a mouse, customers now connect with more sellers of products and services than they ever knew existed; for offerings that are likely to be entirely substitutable to ours in their estimations.

Concurrently, social media has spawned communities of customer interests on nearly every imaginable topic. People who share unbiased and independent opinions and experiences about one provider’s virtues versus another. And who have a huge impact on the opinions and choices of today’s consumers.

The Cliff Notes are: Today, your customers have far more choices that compare favorably with your offering than ever before. And can communicate instantaneously with others about real-life experiences with you and your rivals. Today there’s full exposure. Of the reality of you versus your competitors.

What does this shift mean for you … in your Job at the Top? It means rethinking your business. Profoundly. Starting with what you need to stand for to remain relevant.

It means accepting that what made your business competitive in the past – features, functions, quality, price, service and convenience of your products – is no longer sufficient. And that you may have to pay more attention to – and perhaps reconfigure – how you are seen through the lens of social media by your customers. To include things that might never have entered into your thinking before. That will keep them supporting you. And will encourage others to give you a try.

From your customers’ end of the microscope, access to comparable options for most goods and services, logically leads them to shift their basis for making buying decisions to higher planes of preference. Increasingly beyond the actuality of what you sell and zeroing in on what it’s like to do business with you, versus others. To the persona of your business and to: Who they like most and, therefore, want to “gift” and “endorse” with their business!

How do you win on these terms? First you have to maintain your competitiveness on all the other dimensions … features, functions, quality, price, service and convenience. But with all that pretty much expected now, you need to present yourself to customers in other ways that build their empathy and their interests in being associated with you. Like a friend. Who cares about what they care about. And that, on occasion, you go to extremes to demonstrate it.

Extremes – particularly ones that do something extraordinary for someone in need – spread epidemically through social media. Solid­ifying your base, and gathering new converts in their wakes.

This all adds up to an entirely new duty in your Job at the Top, which now includes your seeking out and acting on opportunities to distinguish your business in extraordinary ways. That will be picked up by social channels. That your customers will care about. And that may or may not have a lot to do with the actual functions, features, quality, price, service and convenience of what you sell.

Dick Cross

Dick Cross is the author of “Just Run It,” an Amazon best-seller. He is founder and managing principal of The Cross Partnership Ltd., and is a consultant and speaker. He may be reached at Follow Dick Cross on Twitter – @DickCross.




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