Blog post by Euan Semple, author of ‘Organizations don’t tweet, people do’

Online conversations

If you run a small business or a cafe or a bar you already talk to your customers face to face and probably know your regulars and a little bit about them. They enjoy the relationship and it is part of why they choose your cafe over others. Why not extend this relationship to online? The social web is about conversations. Whether you take part in them or not, people will be talking about your products and services in these online conversations. Why not join in?

What happens if we get criticised?

This the biggest fear holding back people who haven’t engaged yet on the web. The fear of being attacked and in public. The things is if you are attacked online and have a product or service that people are happy with, and have built a network of these people online, then they will leap to your defence. If you have a poor product then your customers are almost certainly slagging you off both online and off and you don’t even know it! Even if you do have have a problem, maybe a temporary one, then how you deal with it is what matters. Shit happens. Acknowledging your mistakes, correcting them quickly, and taking steps to reassure people that they won’t recur are powerful ways of building trust. The same is even more true online where everything is amplified. The more people who can see you deal well with a problem the better!

What about the time it takes?

After the risk of facing criticism the second most common fear is that social media will take up too much time. The honest answer is that it can! When people first get involved it is hard not to get sucked in and spend a lot of time exploring. In fact it is probably necessary that you do this for a while to learn the ropes but you will also learn how much activity you need to do to get the return on your investment in time and will also get better at making your time online productive. Obviously the last thing you want is to be distracted tweeting while you are meant to be dealing with customers but every business has some downtime, however short, and with mobile phones and tablets it is really easy to keep in touch online and exchange a few words with the right people at the right time.

Who should do it?

Even if you personally can’t find the time to maintain social networks why not consider your staff doing it for you? Yes I know, you don’t pay people to stand around tweeting all day, but they will almost certainly these days all have accounts on Facebook or Twitter. They may well already be unsure whether to tweet about work or even acknowledge where they work. If you have a good relationship with them why not have a chat and see how they feel about being more open about where they work and possibly engaging with customers. If you don’t have a good relationship with them, then as with customers criticising you online, your problems are greater than anything to do with social media!

Share your passion

You are probably passionate about your business. You care that it works. People respond well to passion. In fact more and more people prefer passion and authenticity over impersonal “professional” branding. They want to connect. To know that they can trust you. To be able to share their enthusiasm for your product or services with others. The social web makes this easier and more effective than ever before so why not roll up your sleeves and have a go?

‘Organizations don’t tweet, people do – A manager’s guide to the social web’ by Euan Semple.

Today’s managers are faced with an increasing use of the Web and social platforms by their staff, their customers, and their competitors, but most aren’t sure quite what to do about it or how it all relates to them. Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do provides managers with practical advice, insight and inspiration on how the Web and social tools can help them to do their jobs better.