In his new book, “There is No B2B or B2C – Human to Human: #H2H”, my good friend Bryan Kramer gives some wise advice to brands: “I don’t care what language you speak, who your brand is or what message you’re trying to send, we all need to speak more human.” I love that statement because it so perfectly reminds us that in the midst of all of our increasingly complex digital sophistication, making the human connection is more important than anything else. Because of the power of social to inform and educate consumers, companies need to be a part of the social scape, and that’s means functioning in the world on a human-to-human scale. Brands can no longer afford to hide behind a logo. They have to converse with their market and above all, listen.
This means radical changes in the way companies operate. Top down doesn’t work anymore. When your customers are reaching out to you via social with a problem, they aren’t happy with standard responses. They want to hear from a warm body who has their finger on the problem and who will do everything in their power to make it right as soon as possible. This kind of response can be what Bryan calls a “shining moment,” turning a dissatisfied customer into a fan and a fan into a raving fan.
To carry this off, however, companies are going to have to empower their employees with social so that those who are close to the problem can interact with customers. Companies like DynamicSignal are providing easy to use platforms that make empowering employees as advocates simple. I know, it’s scary, but it’s beneficial too. Brands who embrace social to crowdsource and to form one-on-one relationships are going to be more flexible, stronger players and ultimately winners in the market place.
Bryan (by day, the CEO of Purematter) puts companies who aren’t effectively using social into three categories: those who jump into social without a plan for fear of being left behind; those who avoid it for fear of making a mistake; and those who still want to control the message with one-way communication. For the ones who are trying, I have to give them points for sticking a toe in the water. But folks, the landscape is changing too fast to go at this thing halfheartedly. It’s time to jump in all the way.
There’s no doubt that social is a disruptive force, and if you try to control it, you lose. The best companies embrace it and use it as a positive force for fostering innovation and building brand loyalty. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s only human right? Bryan makes the excellent point that if you connect with your market audience on an authentic, human level, people are ready to forgive a few blunders along the way. It’s when they sense you’re not being genuine that you run into trouble.
At one point in the book he relates the caught-on-camera story of the FedEx deliveryman tossing a package containing a TV over a wall instead of carrying it up to the door and ringing the bell. The video went viral with over 9 million views and lots of fall-out. FedEx responded not with excuses or a slick advertising campaign, but with an authentic, very human apology from a clearly nervous spokesperson who also explained the steps they were taking to make sure it didn’t happen again. It took FedEx stock 30 days to recover, but that was the end of it. A lesson learned, and the company is better for it.
Our relationships, our connections to community, are what help us grow and get stronger. However, we can’t have real human relationships if we’re afraid of making mistakes because, as humans, that’s what we do. So, no more time to waste—it’s time to speak human! I highly recommend Bryan’s new e-book, There is No B2B or B2C: It’s Human to Human: #H2H. It becomes available tomorrow, February 24, as both an e-book and in print. Sign up for your copy here, or visit www.bryankramer.com for more information.
This post originally appeared at www.tedrubin.com, the website of Ted Rubin, leading Social Marketing Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Brand Evangelist and Acting CMO of Brand Innovators. Ted is author of the book Return on Relationship, a term he coined in March 2009 to describe the fundamental principle for building an engaged, multi-million-member customer base. Learn more about him at www.tedrubin.com.