I had one of the moments where something I knew to be true in the back of my mind came racing to the front. Most corporate executives, especially in the tech world, have no idea what social media is for.
Late last year, the Stanford Graduate School of Business issued a study that showed that while 63 percent of executives use social media for business purposes, 59 percent use it to push information to customers and 49 percent use it for advertising. Only 35 percent use it to research customers.
Essentially, that means companies are talking twice as much as they are listening. That's wrong.
What's even worse, the study said the majority of companies lack social media guidelines, and those that do have had them created by people with no experience int he proper use of social media. But the worst of all is that most companies have no systems in place for gathering information from social media.
Then last week, all of this was driven home when I got a call from a company that wants to do a social media advertising campaign to reach CEOs (great idea) and then offer them documentation about their products (uh oh), but they had no strategy for getting the CEOs to actually go to the social media platform and be able to see the ads (whoops).
Another study that came out in August from Domo and CEO.com found that less than 30 percent of CEOs actually use social media to gather information. When they do, they go only when their interest has been piqued. So before you launch a social media advertising campaign, you have to launch a strategic content campaign to get them to the social platform. And the content you shove into that campaign can't be marketing collateral about your company and product. That means no white papers, data sheets, brochures, press releases, etc.
You have to first understand what that CEO is concerned about, show that you understand that concern and then ask for an opinion. Once you engage the audience, they will be more receptive to your corporate message.
What we are talking about is the decision process that exists in the market. It used to be that customers used the web to find products and services. Type in a couple of key words and then sift through the data. That doesn't happen anymore.
Today customers, and especially CEOs of your customers, get information from multiple sources, most of it in social media, and they create what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) when the customer, armed with piles of information, does a search for the name of your company. All the banner ads, key words, SEO and fancy web graphics you buy don't get them to that point. All the content about the issue they are trying to resolve has brought them to you.
That's why I've been saying for a while, your product or service does not define your company. Your content does.