Listening and Humanizing

Having moved from the Washington, DC area metropolis to a rural South-Central Texas in 2006,  I’m still amazed each day at just how personal, human, folks in a small town are – it always comes down to who you know and who you trust.  We can, and should, draw parallels between small town human relationships and social media – in fact, it is the very ethos of social media.  Bring this notion forward to an experience I had yesterday.


While sitting at the doctor’s office waiting on a family member I - of course - whipped out my smartphone and began a scan of my Twitter feed.  Almost immediately, I noticed someone tweeting about a negative experience with a particular well-known satellite radio network.  The gist of this person’s gripe – let’s call him Ted – was that, as a subscriber to the network for over 20 years, the only way in which he could use a promo code to renew his membership (according to the round and round he had with customer service, all of which played out on Twitter) was to cancel his existing subscription, then sign-up again as a new subscriber.

In the end, the satellite network lost a long-time and otherwise happy subscriber – not because they wouldn't allow Ted to use a promo code for renewing his subscription, but because his desire and concern were trivialized.  It’s apparent that many businesses in the Social Age still don’t get it; even those with large social teams and budgets.  Do these companies really believe that it is worth losing a subscriber – a loyal brand advocate - over a 15% off coupon?  I get it if it’s company policy not to allow promo codes for renewals, but what about thanking Ted for his business … explaining the policy in sincere, human terms?  So many of these businesses still view social as nothing but another selling tool; offering no value-add, no community building, ultimately nothing which serves to further brand advocacy.

This is a call-out for all of those “Industrial Age” businesses who’ve thrown money behind all-things social and blindly believe that they’re nailing it.  They are not: customers are in control and they will vote with their wallets.  In all that we do within the social space we should never lose sight of those small town values – meeting, greeting, listening, humanizing – they embody everything that social media is.  Lean social, scale large.

There will be more to come in the weeks ahead regarding companies and organizations that are nailing it – completely winning in the social space.  In the meantime, comment below or tweet me up with your comments and experiences.