You Don’t Always Have the Best IdeasJune 18th, 2010 by Li Evans
At the beginning of the week I wrote a piece about Letting Go of Your Ego. Not always the most popular of topics, that I admit. It’s a pretty tough pill to swallow for any C-Suite or senior level management to realize that in Social Media, it’s not all about their company or themselves. That being said, another tough pill to swallow is understanding that the next big idea about your company, it’s products, its services or even how it markets itself might not come from inside your company’s walls. It may very well come from your engagement within social media, that is if you are open to it.
When you truly engage with your audience, interact with them, listen to them, ask them questions, the rewards can be plenty. From ideas for product upgrades, to additions to your services that will make your customers buy more, listening and engaging can lead to so much more. It can even lead to some really great ideas, even for marketing tactics that appeal to the audience that is really purchasing your products.
Some companies close themselves off to their customers, thinking that the next innovations have to come from their own brain trust. They think that the people they hired for their marketing efforts will be the best people to know how to speak to the consumer. While on many levels this still holds true, sometimes its the collaborative efforts of combining the best of your internal teams with those really engaged social community members that can lead to some of the best ways to propel your company forward.
Look At Dell
Dell could be the poster child for understanding that they just might not always have the best ideas, but they didn’t start out that way, it was a process over time. From their blog where they posted about “Dell Hell” and the exploding batteries, to the Idea Storm community, Dell engages with it’s audience of very engaged consumers. This just isn’t just on their blog, and not just on Idea Storm, but in just about every social media channel they are active in. By having people like @StefanieatDell engaging in Twitter and not just letting it be a constant RSS stream of their products, they added $6.5 million dollars to their bottom line last year. Dell’s let go of their ego, Dell is open to listening and engaging with it’s audience and look at the rewards it reaps.
LOFT Listens Too
I can’t take credit for finding this wonderful example of listening, and understanding your community, it totally goes to Mashable, via Cindy Krum (@Suzzicks). The marketing team at LOFT* really loves their new silk cargo pants. They posted so on their Facebook Fanpage to all of their over 55k fans. The problem though came when those photos of the pants they showed were of a rail thin model, who really didn’t look like she’d be the average person who’d shop at an LOFT store.
Thanks to platforms like Facebook, the consumer now has a voice. Boy, did LOFT fans use it! The women who were commenting on the new posting were not impressed, in fact many asked LOFT’s staff to actually show those pants on “real women”. They were not at all convinced that these pants would look right on all women, whether they were tall, short, pear shaped or curvy.
Guess what happened?
LOFT was open enough to its audience it listened and engaged. It commented back and then they got to work. They got women of all shapes and sizes from 2 to 12, from sizes 5’3″ to 5’10″ to wear the pants and show the different styles and looks. When they posted their employees wearing the cargo pants – real women, not models, they got a resounding feedback of “thank you”s and “you’re great”s. Talk about understanding that sometimes your audience has the better idea!
At the end of the day, being open to new ideas, new concepts is great. What’s even more valuable in social media and marketing in these communities is being open to the possibility that those ideas come from within the social media communities and not just your company’s four walls.
*Ann Taylor LOFT has changed their name to just LOFT, thanks to Julie from LOFT for stopping by and letting us know about that!
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