In a post published last December on Convince & Convert, this week's guest on Marketing Smarts, Jay Baer, wrote, "Social is foremost a philosophy, not a set of behaviors."
Of course, when you read that sentence and consider the title of this post, you might come to the conclusion that there is, in point of fact, nothing "easy" about social. "Philosophy," after all, sounds hard, and when Jay goes on to explain that social is a "cultural imperative" and a "value system," then you are probably wondering: Why can't it just be a set of behaviors? That I can do!
Before you get too bummed out about the prospects for your company's social media efforts, allow me to explain that the "philosophy" Jay is talking about is not Hegelian in nature. Rather, it is a philosophy that first and foremost emphasizes the "primacy of the customer and the primacy of the employee." So far so good, right?
Furthermore, implementing this philosophy begins with determining "what sort of relationship you want to have with your customers and prospective customers." If you want relationship in which your customers feel valued, heard, and respected when interacting with you, if you want that experience to be human rather than inflexible and bureaucratic, then you're actually on the right track.
Naturally, the key to creating this kind of experience has its roots in how you treat your employees and how you thereby encourage them to treat your customers. On this front, Jay says, "I think the companies that are truly good at social, that have social in their DNA, are companies that embrace their employees and give their employees the opportunity to work off script. And that freedom manifests itself in how those employees treat customers using social tools."
If the idea of giving your employees the freedom to act "off script" terrifies you, or if you can't imagine how you could organize your company so as to make that dream a reality, then perhaps social is not for you. If, on the other hand, that seems doable and perhaps already reflects how you operate, then you're ready for me to reveal the easiest way to be successful in social, as promised.
"The easiest way to be successful in social is to be social about content instead of being social about your company," Jay says, "It's a lot easier to get people excited about an interesting and useful and factual and helpful e-book or presentation or podcast than it is to say, 'Aren't we awesome? Please share with your friends. Retweet us," and so on.
This approach to content is a direct outgrowth of the "primacy of the customer." If you focus on creating content (and here I'm even thinking of interactions between customers and customer service, for example, as "content") that is interesting, useful, and helpful, then you are by definition putting the customer first by building content and experiences around their needs, goals, and interests.
In other words, as it turns out, you can translate the idea at the core of "social as philosophy" (customer-centricity) into a set of behaviors (creating content and experiences focused on serving the customer). Admittedly, those behaviors might not seem totally easy to implement, but they sound easier then implementing a cultural imperative via a new value system, right?
If you'd like to hear my entire conversation with Jay, you may do so above, or download the mp3 and listen at your leisure. Of course, you can always subscribe to Marketing Smarts in iTunes and never miss an episode.
Jay Baer is president and founder at Convince and Convert, a marketing services firm. He has consulted with more than 700 companies on digital marketing since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, California Travel & Tourism Commission, Billabong, and 29 of the Fortune 500. Jay is also co-author of The NOW Revolution, 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter, and More Social.