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De-Automation in Social Business

In Praise of “De-Automation” in Social Business

When is the last time you called a company and a real human answered, with a real name and a personality? You may be lucky enough that your oil company or local mechanic answers their own phone, but what about a software company, or insurance company, or a cable company, or a school, or a store, or even a bank?

Many companies do not even list a phone number on their website anymore, and instead provide an email address. A former company of mine recently admitted that their automated phone system has a sales menu item that tells you that option is unavailable. Not surprisingly, sales have been suffering.

Enterprise companies are heavily investing in marketing automation software that generates content and delivers it out to customers and prospects with little or no evidence of relevance.  It is all precisely scheduled, highly polished, and approved by all the right stakeholders to comply with branding, messaging, and regulatory and compliance standards.

The term Social to me seems to require at least two people who are building some sort of relationship, no?

The above approach conflicts with the idea of social business, in my opinion. The goals of social business include enhanced communication with your audience to forge trusted relationships. Social business involves understanding the interests, motivations and needs of your audience and servicing those needs with insights and content to earn a reputation of adding value. In this way, a brand or individual earns the right to continue to communicate with their audience and build rapport, authority in a space, and trust.

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May I suggest social selling or social marketing need to become more surgical and personal? If I get a note in LinkedIn from someone I’m connected to and it says something like, “Saw the attached and I thought of you based on our last discussion. Hope you find it helpful.” I will open the attachment and read it.  It shows a personal effort to offer information that may be useful by a trusted network relation. I may or may not end up doing business with them, but the person now has an opportunity to influence my thinking and approach. Spamming me with social junk mail, however, will solicit a different reaction and likely lead to a connection being removed.

I realize many well-meaning organizations feel that it is all a numbers game…the more people you reach, the more leads, the more at bats, the more deals closed. But, I would suggest having sales personnel:

  1. Take the time to build effective and meaningful networks with the right people,
  2. Selectively provide them with meaningful, relevant information and insights, and
  3. Earn trusted relationships.

These steps enable sales personnel to spend their time nurturing high probability opportunities.

Final Thought: I do believe there is a role for automation in social marketing. It is good to be visible. It is good to make folks aware of the events you are hosting or shows at which you will be exhibiting and taking part. However, if this is the only activity you undertake in social channels, you will miss the personal and emotional connection with your audience.

It’s just so refreshing to be contacted by a human being, even when done digitally, and even more so when they are offering real help!

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