7 Shifts To Make Your Business Smarter, Faster And More Social
Every customer is a potential reporter, and every employee is a potential spokesperson. Business has changed more in the past three years than in the prior 30. But it’s not a threat, it’s an opportunity. The NOW Revolution shows you how. This book isn’t about how to “do” social media. Instead, it outlines how you can retool your organization to capitalize on real-time business. Learn the seven shifts that make your company faster, smarter, and more social, each explained with case studies, useful tips, and actionable implementation advice.
In this interview, I talk with Jay Baer, co-author of The Now Revolution. We discuss Jay’s inspiration for writing the book, the importance of monitoring conversations online, the lasting effects of ignoring negative comments online, the importance of timely responses and who can benefit the most from reading this book.
Meet Jay Baer
Jay Baer is a tequila-loving, hype-free social media strategy consultant that works with major corporations and PR firms to harness the awesome power of the social Web. He’s founded 5 companies, and spent 15 years running digital marketing agencies. He’s worked with more than 700 brands since then, including 25 of the Fortune 1000. He’s a frequent social media conference speaker, and co-author of the forthcoming new book The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social.
1. What inspired you to write this book?
There is no shortage of content either blogs like mine at Convince & Convert or yours or anyone else’s out there helping companies tip toe through the social media minefield. But, what Amber and I decided when we sat down was, there was alot of books out there on how to “do” social media, but there weren’t really any books (really none) on “what does social media mean for business” and “how does social media change companies”. The premise of the book is that business has changed fundamentally as a result of previous technological shifts.
When the telephone was invented, businesses had to change lots. When the web was invented, businesses had to change alot. When email became commonplace, businesses had to change alot. But, we really haven’t changed at all in our response to social media. We are still nibbling around the margins like “lets have a Twitter account” or “let’s have a Facebook page”. That’s not transformational, that’s just kind of messing around.
So, we wanted to write the playbook for businesses on how to really recognize that every one of your customers are now a potential reporter, every reporter is now a potential customer and that the world happens in a matter of seconds now instead of days or weeks. So, it’s not a “here’s how to do Twitter kind of a book. It’s about corporate culture and how you hire different kinds of people and how you organize teams internally and communicate with different technologies, crisis management and success metrics. It really is about changing your business forever as a result of how the world has shifted.
Trevor: The point you bring up about how “everyone is a reporter and every reporter is a potential customer”, that was definitely one of the points that really hit me. I know I was reading through your free chapter and you talk about that concept that people are on the go, they’ve got smartphones now, they are taking photos, they are talking about their bad and good experiences. Alot of this comes back to listening.
2. What would you say to business owners, even professionals and consultants. You know, for example, I hear alot of real estate agents that are looking to dabble in Facebook and they want to know how can I make money off of this? And, that’s not really the right approach, the first step is to listen. What are your thoughts on that?
Ya, I agree, the big picture is that I really believe we will look back at this snapshot in time and realize that social media is much better as a customer loyalty and retention tool than it is as a customer acquisition tool, just in general. And, I think at some point we’ll realize that this idea of “let’s tweet to get you customers” is not really a good plan to begin with.
The smaller picture issue from an operational perspective is that tuning into the conversation, whatever that conversation might be, is an absolute must. Radian 6 has done alot of work in this area and they call it “answering the social telephone” and we use that paradigm in the book as well. Companies that choose to not participate in social media in any form or fashion really is similar to saying “we are going to disconnect the 1-800 number. If people are out there talking about your brand, you are really doing yourself and your company a disservice by not at least interacting with people at that base level when someone mentions you and you answer back.
We actually have an infographic in the book, there’s about 12 different infographics that we commissioned for the book and you can actually look at them all on the website, there are all in a Flickr gallery. One is called “The Humanization Highway“. It’s the process that companies go through from ignoring, to basic listening, to more advanced listening, to engaging, to storytelling. It sort of goes through that process that companies go through as companies get more and more comfortable interacting with customers and prospects on the social web.
3. Unfortunately we hear more and more about the bad things online. You know, horror stories of comments left by people and you actually have one that you mention in your presentation on your website and also in your free chapter about a hotel around your hometown (Flagstaff, AZ). I can’t remember exactly how it went but it was just a horrific comment left of TripAdvisor.com.
Ya, it was a hotel in Flagstaf, AZ, right around the corner from where I used to live, I just moved a couple of months ago to Indiana. But, ya, it was literally a couple miles from my house. And the first review on TripAdvisor, the number one result that comes up, the title of the review is “I think I can feel death creeping up on me as I write this”. In social media we call that a highly negative social media mention. It’s really bad and it’s been up there for 8 or 9 months I think and it’s never been answered or addressed by the owners of that hotel who clearly are still in that ignoring phase of “The Humanization Highway“. And, I would venture to say that they have not generated any bookings from TripAdvisor.com since that review was posted. Probably not a single booking at all because something like that that is so negative is really going to give you pause about staying at that hotel.
Trevor: Ya, it’s amazing the influence that something like that can have. I know personally, and I’m sure that many people out there can say that they’ll go to a site like that if they are booking a trip to Mexico. You are going to a site like TripAdvisor to see what people are saying about the beds, the food, the drinks, the lifestyle and everything else.
Well, and the thing is that maybe the hotel really does suck? That’s entirely possible. But, at least if you are the owner or manager of that hotel you could go on the website and say “hey, we are really sorry about the experience you had”. At least acknowledging you have issues is really all that most people are asking for. That’s the challenge that alot of corporations have right now. You talked about negativity and the chance that this whole social media thing will blow up in your face. But, the reality is this. Social media doesn’t create negativity, it just puts a magnifying glass to it.
If your product sucks, your company sucks, social media is where that suckiness manifests itself. It’s not as if people are like “oh, you’re on Twitter, therefor we don’t like you”. That’s not the way it works at all. In fact, social media is the ultimate canary in the coal mine. It allows your company to understand where it’s operational deficiencies are in a way that nothing else can other than perhaps your call centre.
4. With examples like that one there or any other example that is similar to any negative response you might get online, what are your thoughts on the timeliness of responses? I know, obviously that example has been out there for quite a while and for them to respond 6 months or a year later, it won’t have the same kind of impact as an instant response.
It certainly won’t to that person. It won’t have that kind of impact to the person that wrote it, but it will have an impact for everybody from the point at which they respond forward. The challenge is you have different cultural mores for different venues. The expected response time on Twitter is different than the expected response time on Yelp or YouTube. That makes it a bit of an operational challenge for alot of companies. But even at, let’s say TripAdvisor, where I don’t think you typically expect a response in a few seconds (and in fact you can’t because even if you respond, TripAdvisor has to approve your response, it doesn’t just go live). So, you are probably talking about 12 – 24 hrs, best case scenario, before you could respond through TripAdvisor.
But, even that compared to the long term expectations of companies is crazy, it’s frightening. You know, if you sent a letter of complaint to a company, if you got an answer back in 3 weeks you’d be delighted. If you send an email and you get a response the next day, you’d be be happy. We have, as businesses to some degree, created our own Frankenstein here. We have said we are going to respond to people on social media and now customers are starting to expect that level of instant engagement and it puts alot of operational pressures on companies that just aren’t used to it, they just don’t have the staff or the mechanism to do that. And, that’s alot of what the book is about is how do you do that? How do you operate in a world that is truly real time? Whereas the history of business is anything but real time.
5. And, speaking of that, there are different dynamics between big businesses, corporations that have lots of resources and people that they can put on this, and the small business owner who is doing this on his own. He is doing the marketing, sweeping the floors, doing the sales, everything. Your book in particular, who would you say it’s targeted to? Who can benefit the most from it? Or, is it really everybody?
Really everybody Trevor, and we did that quite intentionally. We said we have two goals for this book. One, we want this book to be valuable 5 years from now. So, it’s very intentionally not about what’s going on this very second, here’s what buttons to push on Facebook. Obviously we talk about Facebook but it’s not a how-to guide because we want it to have some shelf life. Second, we want it to be a book that all audiences can identify with. So, the case studies in the book, the examples that we use are almost across the board small and medium size businesses. We don’t have alot of examples in there about Ford or SouthWest or American Express or IBM. Not that those companies aren’t doing a great job in social media, because many of them are. But, it’s very difficult if you are a small business to say “I can see myself in a SouthWest Airlines example” and we didn’t want to get into that circumstance. We intentionally wrote the book to be approachable for a one person company, a ten person company, a hundred person company and we think big companies will take something out of it as well, but we didn’t write it for them.
Trevor: With regards to the value of engaging in social media from a small business perspective, I know one of the other people I’ve interviewed and done a webinar with is Greg Hounslow (WestJet – Emerging Media Advisor). And, I don’t know if he coined this term (I’ll give him credit for now :), but he talks about a “Brandividual”. Putting a face behind the company and the importance of being a real person. This is just my own opinion, but I think that’s the real advantage a small business has over a big corporation, even though you see example of like Scott Monty (Ford) creating that presence for their company online.
I agree 1000%. I mean, one of the things that social media is good at is making big companies feel small again. But, social media is a natural advantage for small companies because they are that much closer to the customer. They act more human because there is not all these layers of bureaucracy. Ultimately, social media is about people, not about logos.
6. Jay, I’m going to leave it at that, I know you are a busy guy and want to finish it off by asking you how people can find out more about your new book? I know I’m excited to read and I know other people are going to want it. And, I know you have a number of cool promotions around it as well where you are encouraging bloggers to reach out to you and help with the promotion of the book. And, obviously, I’m sure you guys will be wildly successful with the book because the content you are putting out is valuable so, therefor, people are going to want to help you in return. So, where can people find out more.
The website for the book is http://nowrevolutionbook.com, also on Facebook at http://facebook.com/nowrevolution. As you mentioned earlier, people can download the first chapter of the book for free. We’ve got all kinds of speaking engagements and a whole book tour planned for the first part of the year so hopefully we’ll see alot of folks out and about when we do that, it will be very exciting.
Trevor: And, you mentioned that you are out in this neck of the woods here in the near future, you have a Tweetup happening out here?
Yes, a Tweetup in Victoria, BC on the island on November 2nd, so looking forward to that. And, actually, I am already talking to some folks in Vancouver about a book tour stop there and I’ll make sure we circle back with you and get you involved in that as well. Really excited about that, Vancouver is one of my favorite cities in the world so I can’t wait.
Connect With Jay Baer
Book Website: http://nowrevolutionbook.com
Book Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nowrevolution
Infographic Flickr Gallery: http://www.flickr.com/photos/54547179@N02/