It’s not a bull horn…

I really needed to think about the point I wanted to make with this one.  In a previous post, I encouraged you to think that Social Media was all about building relationships.  I think what got my head thinking on this was a conversation I had with Christopher Barger, director of social media at General Motors.  The discussion we had, albeit brief, was eye opening and got my mind thinking about how you change the  use of social media from a bull horn (just pushing out content) to a tool that builds relationships and engages with your consumers, fans, followers, etc.

What are you / we doing as a brand in the consumer market place that encourages discussion?  The playing field has changed for GM on this.  With a second chance (and I realize it’s not widely accepted that we were loaned money to survive) we now have an opportunity to radically change perceptions and leverage new technology and tools to get first hand feedback on what consumers are saying about us.

I guess we also need to prove that the investment in our company was worth it…which by the way, I believe it was.

So how do you do this?  One example that I’m interested to see play out is the Pepsi Refresh Project.  If you aren’t aware, Pepsi decided to forgo a Super Bowl commercial for the first time in 23 years.  Instead, Pepsi will be spending $20 million on a social media campaign and allow consumers to submit ideas to Pepsi for ways to “refresh their communities,” making the world a better place.  Consumers are participating and talking with Pepsi on their ideas.  Will it work?  I don’t know, but at least it’s something new.  It’s something with a purpose.  I like it.

What does this mean for me?  Well…I’ve tried to connect and build relationships with people that can influence decisions at GM and provide ideas to them for consideration.  I’ve learned on my own time how companies successfully use social media to positively impact their brands and I do this because this communication medium is a passion of mine.  I also believe that everyone can play a role on how a brand communicates to its consumers…just be educated, transparent and honest.  Listen.  Learn.  Relate.

I contend this is pretty simple strategy to making social media work for you.  What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “It’s not a bull horn…

  1. Patrick, you’re only going to prove that you are right. Sure, we can talk all day long about the “right” approach, but what you’re out there doing, every day, is proving what works. And because you’re a person who’s interested in more than simply selling a product, it shows in everything you do.

    It’s almost as if these so-called “social media channels” do nothing more than amplify who you already are. There’s no magical formula with them. Even before talking with Christopher, you already knew that Twitter (at least) was about so much more than pushing a message.

    Now, for those of you who have been using such channels as merely “push,” don’t run to a social media guru. Read “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” instead. 😉

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  3. Oh come on, Christy! Let Patrick believe that it’s all because he talked with me! Let him believe that I’ve infused him with brillance! (I know as well as you do that this is not so, that Patrick had this space down without ever talking to me… but if he wants to think it came from me, I’ll take it.) 😉

    Patrick – good post. Amplifying who you already are is a good thing to do… the cool benefit for brands is that so many of the people who, by being who they already are, make us who WE are, become known to the world at large. It can only benefit us (any brand) to have the community learn more about the people who make our companies what they are. BUT… as you & Christy point out, we have to be about more than selling to people.

    Someone at the #sofresh conference I was just at — I think it was Spike Jones — said in their preso that the rules of friendship and face-to-face interaction need to apply in the social web as well. I couldn’t agree more. If someone approached us in real life spewing nothing but sales pitches and key messages, we’d be looking for the door or a police officer real quick. 😉 Good sales come from building good relationships (think of the mechanic or car dealer we’ve been going to since you were 17 because that’s who our dad or mom went to, or the accountant/tax attorney we stay with because they’ve been doing our taxes for years… we give them our business because we TRUST them, we KNOW them, we have a RELATIONSHIP with them.

    If we keep the principles of real life in mind, we’ll all get this social thing just fine.

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