Anyone remember Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000? While it featured an exciting game between the St Loius Rams and Tennessee Titans that came down to the wire, you might better remember it as the “Dot-Com Super Bowl.” The game featured commercial after commercial by companies that had business models built on commerce generated through their websites. Remember pets.com or lifeminders.com? Many of them didn’t survive the crash that ensued less than a month and a half after the Lombardi trophy was handed to the victorious Rams.
At the time, their websites were impressive. The only problem was, if no one knew their sites existed, their businesses were useless – and worthless.
The same is true now. And while companies of different stripes (notably professional services firms) have learned to promote both their websites and brick-and-mortar operations with their advertising, email communications, and offline marketing, in general they’re doing a poor job at using digital and social media engagement to drive traffic to their site, much less nurture new business. And that’s a shame, because digital engagement is much less pricey than your typical Super Bowl ad.
Engagement vs Broadcasting
One of the main things that needs to change for businesses to make better use of “social business” tools is to “engage.” In other words, to start and continue meaningful conversations with clients, prospects, possible partners, and media sources.
To do that businesses need to listen much more than they are now. Too much of social media is being treated as a straightforward PR tool, in which businesses are trying to “broadcast” their messages, hoping for a mass consumption that never happens.
Better to initiate a conversation. And last I checked, conversation requires talking … and listening. The biggest benefit of this is where a conversation will lead. Many times, it leads in a positive direction for your business.
And digital conversations and relationship don’t cost as much as a pricey Super Bowl ad – notably one purchased near the apex of a speculative market boom.
Photo credit: Elvert Barnes / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)