Before digging into this post I think it's important to note that the idea for this post came from the pastor of my church this past week. No, this isn't going to be a religious diatribe, I just wanted to point out that little tidbit. In the sermon he was talking about the perception of Christianity in our local community (Colorado Springs, Co) vs. the actual reality. It reminded me of a paragraph I wrote in a previous blog post that, at the time, I told myself that I would go back and expand on... this is that expansion.
To get started I'm going to make my point in one sentence then I will spend the rest of this post explaining my reasoning behind it. That sentence is:
Really David? Dire consequences? A little over dramatic dontcha think? No, I don't think. In fact it would do both you and I some good if I stated it a little harsher, if I were a little more dramatic, because that point really should be driven home.
Imagine, you are creating a community of people that love your business. People that tell others about you even though they have never done business with you, all because they feel like they know you on some personal level. Then they come to you to do business, now that the time is right, and they find that you are nothing how you have portrayed yourself to be in your social circles. What do you think will happen?
Well, at first, when people start to tell others about how bad you really are it will be dismissed as a mistake, because come on, nobody is perfect. But as these accounts start to add up, and they will add up fast, people will start to see your business for who it really is. Then, because you are connected with these people on social networks they will start to let you know about their bad experience through a Tweet, on your Facebook , Google + pages and more.
Next, your social media team, doing their job with try to smooth things over and apologize, even offer to make things better. Some of these upset customers will be pacified but as more and more are created the harder it will be to keep the lid on things. Soon your social media team will start to make excuses that will easily be seen through, making your PAST customers and your online community even more upset as they start to rally against you. Do you see what I'm getting at?
The larger the chasm between the perception of your brand and the actual reality of it the bigger the chance of a PR nightmare. So, how do you ensure that this doesn't happen? Easy, be who your fans think you are. Easier said than done but it's important that social be who you are instead of just something you do. And no, staying off of social networks will do you no good either, just because your brand isn't on Facebook doesn't mean you're customers aren't and they are telling other people about how you have treated them.
So, in the era of super transparency, in an economy ran by relationships, it's important that you humanize your brand and be accounted for. Stand up and make your brand better. Check all your touch points and make them exceptional. Then, do exceptional things in the community, give people something to hang onto, something that goes deeper than what you sell. People want to do business with people, so give them your humanity. Give them you.