Business and Social Media
There are a very small number of things that you can guarantee will always remain the same – they are the immutable truths of life; you will have to pay taxes, you will die and people will change. Why do I start with this? Because it shows just how closely these things are related.
You will pay tax is a fact. You will not like it and you will do all that you can to avoid it but it seems no matter how much you try to avoid it, they will get you in the end. The same is true of the second statement - you are destined to die. You will do all that you can to avoid it; you will prolong its inevitability by whatever means possible, but it will happen.
It’s the same in business. The way that business moves forward is not set in concrete – it’s not the same as a mathematical formula (1+1=2) that is and always be the same. The business principles may remain the same and can be clearly defined (Profit = Total Revenue – Total Costs). However, the way that business is done is subject to change.
The old adage that people buy from people (the way that business is done) is a clear example of just how far it can change. People seem to be just as happy these days form buying online with absolutely no interaction with people. But, does that mean people can be removed from the equation completely?
Think about it for a moment. Would you buy from, say, Amazon if you hadn’t heard about them? The answer is probably no, you would not. It is true that you might stumble upon their web site whilst browsing the Internet and you might decide to take a punt and try them out. But, other than that you would be completely unaware of their existence.
Whilst you ponder that thought, look at where Amazon are today; the prominent position they hold in the market place; the strength of their business; the service they offer to customers., all done without a salesman in sight and no personal interaction. Is that really the case?
Is it not true that the growth of Amazon can, in many ways, be attributed to their place in Social Media? Open your Facebook account and search on Amazon and you will find a page giving you the raw facts. When I looked recently it said simply, “Thank you for 20 Million Likes.” 20,339,238 likes, 112,869 people talking about this. The same is true on Twitter; they had 593,562 followers and who know how many tweets and mentions they generate.
You may think that there is no personal interaction from their salesman but you need to realise that they are using different sales people today. They are using people just like you and me to lead customers to their web site so that they can make their purchases.
There are many other companies who have taken that plunge into a brave new world of business that perhaps is not too afar from the vision portrayed in the book Aldous Hukley wrote in 1931.
When you look at the success stories of the companies who have made that change, the really astonishing question is, “Why are so many organisations holding back from taking the plunge?” In many cases, the horrible truth is that they do not want to embrace the change in exactly the same way as they do not want to pay taxes.
Fight it if you will but, there are clear things to be learned from past failures, particularly some of the recent ones like Woolworths and HMV. Isn’t it true that they failed to keep up with changes in their markets places and the habits of their customers? I am sure there were other contributory factors to their demise but if they had kept in tune with social trends they would surely still be there today.
On a very personal level, there is another question that needs to be asked if you are running a business, “Where does that leave you, are you still trying to fight three wars against the immutable facts of life (taxes, death and change) or are you looking for new ways to engage in new business by keeping up with the changing social trend.
Even with the societal change in habit, the principle of business is still the same (Profit = Total Revenue – Total Costs). To make a profit, you have to sell and there is a cost in selling. Having a shop with no staff and doors that are permanently locked is an obvious invitation to failure.
However, in exactly the same way, trying to do business on the Internet without engaging in social media; without allowing normal people to encourage others to your website is going to make life hard. There is another adage, which springs to mind as I write this.
Failing to prepare = Preparing to fail
I hear so many people in business say that they do not think social media is relevant to their business because… but I am fairly sure they were the same arguments that echoed through the boardrooms of many other companies that are not with us today. Just think about the major high street names (like Woolworths, Blockbuster, HMV, Jessops, Comet, - the list is long. ) that have been consigned to a place in history in the last few years.
If you haven’t done so already, it is time to bring the conversation into your boardroom and address the issue of your future. This change is not a new fad that will go away – the Rubicon was crossed a while ago; the point of no return simply came and went without a trumpet being sounded.
The real question is, "On which side do you stand".