Last night I got to listen to Gary Vaynerchuk speaking about Crush It (Amazon affilaite link), his new book. He talked about branding your business via online marketing, which is what has made him famous (via video blogging about wine on Wine Library TV). [You can see a 15 minute talk of his on YouTube].
His primary thought is that Content is King. So if you run a company and your company isn't blogging, shame on you. Who's telling your story if it isn't you? (I won't rant any more about the benefits of blogging - the SEO, the thought leadership, the storytelling about customers and employees).
Same can be said for social media. Gary V. says that 1 million people join Facebook per day. Like it, don't like it, you have to be in front of eyeballs - and FB is where the eyeballs are. So is Twitter. So is LinkedIn if you are hiring. It isn't so much about the platform as it is about utilizing that platform - twitter, FB, LI, blog - to tell your story. Story telling is what creates a brand.
Social Media is not about Talking. It's about Listening. Then engaging. Many companies are using social media for customer service (customer retention) and reputation management. Southwest, JetBlue, Comcast, and Gary Vee's favorite example, Zappos. Zappos is a game changer, because while most companies shirk customer service (don't believe me? find contact info on a website and get through that phone tree) and most call centers try to end the call in under 3 minutes, Zappos goes out of its way. It's at the heart of the culture of the company to provide excellent customer service. Zappos rewards employees who have the Longest call times. You know who else is that good? FreshBooks.
Gary Vee said that the Wal-Mart Era is ending. He says that we will now enter the Niche Era where small businesses will rule. However! However, there will be thousands of businesses doing what you do. I thought: We have that now in VoIP. Thousands of Hosted PBX companies and thousands of VoIP Providers. How do you Differentiate yoursef in your market? Gary vee says Content. (And customer experience).
Gary Vee pointed out that Word-of-Mouth (WOM) converts 70% of the time to a sale, while traditional marketing only converts 12%. That means that you need to be telling a clear concise story to your target audience (not everyone) that they can grasp and re-tell. The re-telling is the viral part, but that only happens when your story is compelling and the service was remarkable. (Think Purple Cow).
Gary Vee reminds us that documentation is increasing everyday. Everything is permanent. What is legacy are you leaving?
[You can read more about his talk here].