Are consumers and candidates by social media? Or is it all a myth? I spoke to Scott Monty of Scott Monty Strategies to find out what his thoughts are and what companies ought to be doing to have real results from social media.

Listen to the interview on iTunes, SoundCloud or keep reading for a summary of our conversation. And do check out LinkedIn Sweden’s Welcome Talent portal and our event How to Draw Consumer Insights from Your Social Analytics on 24 March at Google Campus in London, both mentioned at the start of the podcast.

“The Myth of Social Media” study:

It was a headline-grabbing title, and something that obviously interested me. I was the Global Head of Social Media at Ford Motor Company for six years. So when you see someone claiming that this is a myth, it doesn’t work, etc., you’re obviously interested in delving into it.

And as I dug a little deeper, it made a lot of sense, at least from the way that I assume the question was asked. Gallup and Wall Street Journal surveyed 18,000 people and asked them where they got their influence for making purchase decisions. And as you can imagine, the vast majority of people, 92% in fact said that they get their decisions from friends and family.

And that’s typical human behaviour. I mean, if you’re going to buy something, whether it’s something as significant as a laptop computer or a smartphone, you’re going to ask people that you trust, and trust is usually engendered with those that we know well.

When it came time to getting their purchase decisions from social platforms – Twitter, Facebook, etc. – 62% of people said they did not trust those platforms. And I thought that was interesting. And it’s similar to a question that we’ve seen overall for quite a few years that people don’t trust the platforms.

Well, when you just finished asking them, “Who do they trust?” and they say, “Friends and family,” and then you ask a follow-up question, “What are you on social networks to do?” It’s to connect with friends and family. So when you parse apart this question and when you dig down a little bit deeper, what they’re saying is they don’t trust paid brand advertisements, paid brand placements on social networks. So in other words, the marketing that they’re getting from advertisers, from companies on social networks does not influence their purchase decision.

How companies can acquire new customers/candidates on social:

I saw a study last year that said 71% of customers have left a brand because of a poor customer experience. Seventy-one percent say they’ve abandoned a brand. Yet at the same time, 63% of marketers say that the most important thing they can do is lead generation.

Now, you have to wonder if constantly chasing new customers and taking your eye off of your existing customers is causing those existing customers to flee. Or if marketers simply recognise that they have a customer retention issue and their only solution is to go after new ones.

But the bottom line is if you treat your existing customers well, if you give them a reason to stick around, and I’m not just talking about discounts, if you make them feel valued, if you give them an experience that they want to talk about, that they want to share, that’s how you engage your customers, and that’s how you attract new ones.

Because we always hear about get your customers to advocate for you. And it’s not as simple as going out and asking your customers, “Hey, will you tell everybody about us?” They have to be satisfied with what you’re delivering to them first, and then the conversation would or should come naturally after that. And I think if more brands spent time on the customer experience and on their existing customer base, they would see additional customers come in.

How companies can  become part of authentic and real human conversation on social:

Well, when you look at the Gallup study that was done, they recommend behaving in what’s called, and I’ll use the acronym, ARC, A-R-C.

  • A: They believe you need to be authentic, first and foremost, and that means acting as a real human being would act, and again being consistent with what you do, and not putting up corporate BS, so to speak.
  • R: And then of course, the “R” in ARC is about responsiveness. In this day and age, people expect to be responded to in a timely manner. And when you don’t, they’ve got the power in the palm of their hand, with their smartphone, they can go on to another website, they can engage with another brand, they can use other mechanisms to get what it is that they want. And if you’re not doing this 24/7 because, let’s face it, people can interact with your brand whenever they want, not just when your store is open, then they’ll go elsewhere.
  • C: And then the “C” in ARC is compelling. You’ve got to have compelling content. You’ve got to have a compelling reason for people to want to engage with you. It’s not just about shouting from the tree tops why you’re the best and that you’ve got a sale and all the rest. Are you doing things to improve the world? Are you giving them a chance to be the star for the day? Are you engaging them in a point of debate? Are you making them laugh? There’s a lots of different ways to be compelling and to engage people’s attention.

The social media activities that worked best at Ford:

Showing up in unexpected places – Certainly you have to be where people expect you to be, and in this day and age, bare minimum, it’s the big four – Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook – that’s where people expect you to have a presence. But when you do things that are out of the ordinary on those platforms, when you do things that are out of the ordinary for your customers, I think that’s when they start to pay attention.

So for example, when we first started out on Twitter, when I was at Ford, I simply opened up the search capability on Twitter during American Idol and Ford was, really, it was one of the first sponsors of American Idol and you ran music videos, I think, that they made with the stars, and obviously put them in the vehicles. And I would just monitor for mentions of Ford. “Oh, Ford, your commercials suck,” “Ford, I love your Mustang.” And then I would reply from the Ford account and people would not expect that. Because they would expect Ford to just be out there talking about itself, right?

So that kind of engagement, that kind of dialogue and back and forth was completely unexpected, and yeah, it grabbed a lot of attention and got people to talk. And some of them would be stuck in their ways, would continue to hate Ford, and that’s fine. Others would start to pay attention to the brand, and that’s all you can ask at the end of it.

Build a community – And in addition to those platforms, we had our own site, our own community, and we would track people who were the most engaged and active members in the community, those that had commented the most, maybe had submitted photos or stories, or had shared our information the most. And then we would create a pool of these individuals and invite them to the media preview days of auto shows, and we would set them up with some of our top executives. And it was literally a surprise and delight program.


Brands that are doing social right:

I think as far as operating their owned media, their home channel, I think Coca-Cola does an amazing job on their Journey website. They’ve basically taken a traditional, corporate-led website, and they’ve turned it into just a journalistic powerhouse that’s got 360 degrees worth of content. It’s not all press releases turned into stories, it’s looking at collectors and fans and things that Coke is doing to make the world a better place and delving into communities. It’s just a very content-rich site that’s got a variety of perspectives and angles to it. I think from an owned media standpoint, Coca-Cola is one of the leaders.


The next big thing:

I think the more things get sophisticated around technology and messaging apps and all the rest, I think the more we need to retain and understand what motivates humans, and what has motivated us for some 2-3,000 years. My favorite marketing quote is

“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings and speak my words.”

And that was said 2,000 years ago by the Roman orator, Cicero.

And if you think about the profound implications of that, think my thoughts, feel my feelings, speak my words, that’s all that it takes for any marketer or communicator to truly get where they need to go. They need to understand their target audience and they need to speak in the words that those people are familiar with. And by doing so, they’re going to make themselves more well respected, more liked, more trusted and ultimately have more attention.

Follow Scott on Twitter @ScottMonty, sign up to The Full Monty and listen to I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere.

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About Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO at Link Humans, a social and digital marketing agency.

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