An odd pairing makes an impression. Whether it’s that couple in the restaurant who just don’t seem to go together or a shiny new Cadillac with a surfboard strapped to its roof, the unexpected catches our attention and makes us wonder.
There was a time when the thought of a traditional association or conservative company embracing social media and online communities seemed just as odd, laughable even. This technology was something “only kids used.” But today social media and online communities have become so much more than an activity Harvard students did to kill time in between classes.
This technology can allow you to become better connected in ways you never thought possible. Imagine linking up with someone in your field of expertise to co-author a paper, someone you’ve never met, outside of IMs and emails. Discover job openings before they’re posted. Go behind the scenes of a company that makes a favorite item and weigh in on a product before it hits the shelves through connecting with the research and development team(s). From a user’s perspective, there are so many wonderful communities that you can now have access to. No matter where you live you can find and connect with like-minded individuals, learn a new skill, find a clipless coupon/research the best price, and/or debate current events.
But from a business perspective the offerings are even more wondrous. You can now capture an incredible amount of business intelligence through robust reporting features as well as surveys and polls. You can maintain data and manage events. You can finally target an audience of interested fans/friends and use them as your personal marketing army. Offer incentives to your community to become super fans, allowing them additional access/privileges, discounts etc. Provide customer service offerings to people without forcing them to come to your store and build a reputation as being helpful, thus creating a network of “future” customers.
There’s only one catch — this isn’t the Jetsons and we’re not in the 1960s envisioning how the future will be. It’s happening now and if you’re not embracing it… maybe your competition is. How much of a head start are you willing to give them? Don’t be afraid of social media being an odd fit for your company. It (and your use of it) might just be what makes you memorable.