This time around I am going to focus on public opinion and communication. Letter writing has always played a huge role in the spread of public opinion, with an example of this being during the heydays of immigration. In A True Picture of Emmigration, by Rebecca Burlend, the author told how her husband listened for news of letters coming from America. Then he would go and hear what was said of conditions in the U.S.. Nor can the power of the coffee and chocolates houses be forgotten - as those gathering places were where politics and popular opinion were vehemently discussed.
Jumping ahead to today, and particularly to the oft-bemoaned fact that everyone has their nose in their smart phones and tablets. And while I will admit that I too bemoan this on occasion it also cannot be ignored. Or, it might be better to say, "It is risky to ignore."
The forums for public opinion have changed, and become lightening fast....
......Pictures of a restraurant dinner on Facebook are usually sent with a comment.....
......Bored people, waiting in line, having nothing better than to Tweet their status......
Basically opinions of businesses and services fly with the speed of thought.
And businesses can only ignore this at their risk.
If you don't "hear" what is being said then you cannot highlight the praise, or show solid customer service, if there was a problem. Nor can a business afford to focus on just one "window" into the thoughts of their customers, because their clients may use a Tweet one day, or a FB post the next. Or they may be on a tablet, and writing a longer review on Google Plus.
Keeping the story consistent is vital for any business pursuing social media as a marketing tool.
In many ways, strange as this sounds, it is often easier for the larger businesses. There they can meticulously study how to tell their brand's story; decide who will implement it; and monitor the responses. This even holds true when several departments are involved. There are guidelines and common structure.
So what do they have that smaller companies don't? People.
Smaller companies need social media, and a consistent message, as much as the bigger companies. Yet, when they are working on social media themselves it is often a case of "just put something out there." And where this comes from is, "We have to deal with business, and as long as we keep our media active we are good."
Yes, activity is a necessity, but here is where the real challenge comes in - "What is going to make the effort worthwhile?"
Even if you have managed to have a variety of material - text, links, photos, and videos - the question needs to be, "Are they relevant to your story? Or is it too random?"
These are the best questions to ask.
And are the best criteria to give yourself, your employee, or your hired specialist.
Cathy Mosley brings her 26 years of storytelling and writing experience to the realm of Social Media. To help small businesses.