Social media is still in its infancy, and many business executives still don't understand how to Ieverage it for their organizations, large or small. They're too focused on the talking, and not focused enough on the listening.
When I speak, I often begin by asking my audience, "How many of you know at least one executive who doesn't fully understand the business value of Twitter?"
Sure enough, the entire audience raises their hands. Then I tell them about my experience in Las Vegas three years ago.
I had been standing in line to check in at Las Vegas’s then-trendiest hotel in town, the Aria, for nearly an hour. I was exhausted and frustrated after a 6 hour flight from New York, and just wanted to get to my room and rest. The last thing I wanted to do was waste an hour of my life waiting in line.
Frustrated, I did what any social media nerd would do - I pulled out my phone, and tweeted the following:
“No Vegas hotel could be worth this long wait. Over an hour to checkin at the Aria. #fail"
Unfortunately, the Aria wasn't listening, and didn’t tweet back to me. But a competitor was listening. Just two minutes later, I received a tweet from the Rio Hotel down the street.
Now at this point, if you’re anything like most executives I’ve shared this story with, you’re thinking, “What did the Rio tweet - “Come on over, we have no line here" or "Call us, we have a room for you!"?
Had the Rio tweeted something like that to me, I would have thought two things: First, "Why are you stalking me?" and second, "Why is it wide open at the Rio when it's jam-packed and happening at the Aria?"
On the contrary, the Rio Las Vegas tweeted the following to me:
“Sorry about your bad experience, Dave. Hope the rest of your stay in Vegas goes well.”
Guess where I ended up staying the next time I went to Las Vegas?
The Rio hotel earned a $600 sale on the basis of that one tweet. But the story gets even better, because I gave the Rio a "Like" on Facebook, and a few months later, I got a message from a friend on Facebook. My friend Erin asked, "Hey, I'm having a family reunion in Vegas this New Year's, and I saw you liked the Rio's page. Do you recomend them?"
I wrote back to her, "Well, the Rio isn't the newest hotel in Vegas, or the nicest - but I'll tell you one thing - they know how to listen to customers." She booked the Rio for 20 guests that day.
One tweet from the Rio, and one "like" from me led to over $10,000 in revenue for the company.
No executive that's heard or read this story could argue that the Rio's message was a marketing or sales message, eiither. All they did was use social media to listen, and then show a little empathy to the right person at the right time. An ad, or a push-marketing-like message from the Rio, simply wouldn’t have worked. But their ability to listen, respond and be empathic did work.
The Rio was listening on Twitter by tracking keywords of their competitors, and of the word "Vegas". If you work at a hotel, you can do the same. If you work at a law firm, try listening by doing a Twitter search for the words "need a lawyer". Or if you work for a recruitment firm, try a search for the words "We're hiring."
Whatever your organization does, you can find your customers and prospects on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and everywhere on the social web, by listening for the right words.
The one thing every business executive must understand about social media:
The secret to social media success isn't in talking - it's in listening.