Consumers have become content producing machines; I guess that is somewhat of an understatement! They blog, connect, chat, email, status update, tweet, write reviews, post pictures and videos, and comment on each other’s blogs (that should be a good start). I have been noticing somewhat of a concerning path The Consumer is taking in this ever changing world of being connected to Businesses and the “gotcha mentality”. The basic premise of the “gotcha mentality” is that people (consumers), bloggers, social media aficionados, and other businesses (I rarely see this one but it sure would add to the conversation) go in search of the missteps, failures, and chances companies take in this new world of connectedness and flame them any which way they can, for what? In the very rare occasion it sparks a good discussion. So Consumers time for skin in the game! Time to put your money where your blog is!
We the consumers have been rather vocal about wanting openness, transparency and honesty of the people we purchase and use goods and services from. So businesses have listened to surveys, case studies, and market research and said “ok we can do this!” So the venture into the world of social media and for the next six months every blogger, every reviewer, and social media aficionado produce mountains of content and noise about all the failure, missteps, and chances businesses take to be open, transparent, and honest. Do you see the contradiction you have set up for businesses that are trying based on your behalf? Now I am not saying businesses should not be held account and responsible for their actions, but there are proactive ways to really truly start building these communities you have asked for!
So, you’re following a business on twitter, have a RSS feed from a company’s blog, you a fan on a facebook page and following an industry tracking website. With all these connectednesses there are ways you should be a proactive advocate to help build and grow these relationships! We should implore the Honey tactics here!
The first thing you should do as a good advocate is DO YOUR RESEARCH! Not all things you read or see are what they seem at first glance. Believe me I have caught myself leaping before doing this critical step. This first step helps you understand perspective, both the companies and your own.
The second thing to do is reach out to the company in a very proactive and calm manner. The channel you choose and how you approach this conversation is the best first step you can take for starting a dialogue to help the community you want to build.
The biggest advices I can offer is try and make it privately to give the dialogue a chance to happen. If the company is on twitter use the direct message or DM. Sometimes you may have to ask for a follow which is ok to ask for. Locate the Contact Us on the company’s website and send them an explanation of your perspective. If a fan on the company’s fan page on facebook you can send a message through your InBox. All these are effective channels for communicating your perspective to a company you are choosing to help. That is the key to this approach Help! I am making the assumption as adults we know the best approach to the communication.
Now for the payoff, to make the full circle of engagement work to really grow and build these communities for success even in the midst of mistakes, missteps, and risk taking. Work with the company about how to express the interactions to establish true openness, transparency and honesty. If you have a blog write about your experiences with care, kindness, and constructive appraisals and encourage people to write comments to further the conversation. Give a tweetout on twitter about the engagement you had with the company and direct to your blog. Write a status update on the company’s fan page and include links to helpful information. Lastly, if the company has a blog or something like it, encourage them to do a write up on the experience also. Once they take this action use your community of followers and direct them to this write up.
Hopefully with these few tips we can all learn to interact to calmly discuss experiences and move away from the “gotcha” mentality. These tips will really make this whole new world of the interconnectedness of businesses and consumers really become beneficial for all that are involved. To be open, honest and transparent I have not always taken my own advice when it comes to these tips, but about a year ago I started thinking and acting in these exact ways and believe it or not, companies truly want our help in this way. Businesses and people (yes one thing to remember there are always people behind the channels you are choosing to interact with, thanks John Bernier for that advice!) are very receptive when you approach the interaction and experience with care and calmness to make the products and services better for the greater good. Now I know you may think this is fluff and feely, but I feel and think we all have a chance to “#chainreact” to really make a difference.
We need to start approaching these channels from a different perspective!