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By Ann Dempster | Published Feb 23, 2012

The End of Business as Usual

The mobile phone revolution began with businesses and was then adopted by the general public. Conversely, the current Twitter/Facebook revolution was initiated by the younger members of our society and adopted by business. Financial advisers need to realise that shortly all of their clients will have adopted social networking and, as such, will have to join them. Instead of the traditional one-to-many marketing approach, businesses need to adapt to the one-to-one-to-many network model. To succeed, businesses need to become more like the very people that they are trying to reach.

But take heart, Brian Solis reckons that the changes are happening so fast that it is impossible to be an expert – we are all still learning. Solis argues that the new generation want to feel connected, they hate feeling disconnected. Businesses need to grab customers’ attention but they cannot use traditional methods to do so. Attention is a precious commodity and businesses must adapt their ways of working to capture it. Content is less important than context and is the key to creating shared experiences and building connections. There can be different interest groups to help create meaningful topics and to keep relevant. A happy customer tells a few, an unhappy customer tells many more - so we need to adapt to the change that social networking is making.

Mr Solis contests that people are being scored on their “influence” – their capacity to influence others through social networking. Brands look for “influencers” as a domino effect is created by digital consumers directly through peers. You need to reach those in high regard. You can use your customer relationship management software to categorise and identify ambassadors. Start at the end, look at what you want to achieve and work backwards.

To establish a good influencing network, you need to combine relevance, authority, affinity, proximity, trust, popularity and goodwill. To measure your success you need to look at the reach, relevance and resonance.

People do not spend their “social capital” foolishly. Borrowing social capital is a steep request and not to be taken lightly. Also, with limited resources, you need to focus on where to put time and effort. We can gain collective intelligence about all the interaction with the internet that is, the content of blogs and tweets, and focus our communications accordingly – likes attract. “Fish where the fish are.”

If you give connected consumers something to believe in and exciting to feel part of, they share and benefit from it. But you must stay consistent, recognise and reward community participation. By keeping in touch with the responses and having spare money, you can be flexible and independent, but more importantly, adapt. Those that do not adapt do not survive. It is the consumers’ perspective that now defines the brand in this new democratised marketplace. Social media is driven by emotion. You need to be in harmony with consumers’ personal values and aspirations and adapt to this new type of customer.

Brian Solis gives many examples to help you to see how you can adapt your own business to rewire the way you work. He emphasises the need to keep on reviewing your approach to this fast-growing new world. This is an inspirational book to help you to see how you have to review your whole approach towards connected consumers.

Ann Dempster is managing director of Plum Software

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