Social Media: Do we curb it or embrace it?
Tue, 01/31/2012 - 11:56 — Corey Breton
It seems as if in today’s technology age everyone who has an opinion can voice it if they so choose. Finding a platform isn’t difficult, as every corner of the internet provides the ability to post your thoughts. Less than a decade ago your opinion could only reach as far as your inner circle, but now there are endless number of blogs, forums, and websites waiting for people to post their thoughts. You can get online right now and post your thoughts, opinions, and views for hundreds, if not thousands of "friends.” And that's just the beginning, as hundreds of their friends can also view your opinions and make comments or pass on a link to what they’ve read. Then there is Twitter, which allows you to reach people that just a few years ago would've been unimaginable. Social Media, and specifically Twitter, have helped create the largest marketplace ever, giving each of us the ability to reach hundreds of millions of profiles within a matter of seconds. Today our reach is only stymied by our lack of creativeness instead of our inner circle. That begs an interesting question from a sales perspective. Knowing the power of social media and the impact it has on our business, do we curb this ability or do we embrace it?
Up until a few weeks ago I wasn’t sure on what side of the camp I fell. In a short number of years the multitude of ways for sales representatives to connect and contact customers has increased dramatically. Even more so, I personally didn’t truly didn't understand or comprehend the power and reach of social media. Like many of us, I had been resistant to change. I had not been an early adopter of Facebook or Twitter, resulting in my underutilizing social media as a sales tool. Interestingly enough, it took an NBA lock-out to alter my personal view on social media.
Thanks, Darren Rovell!
As many of you are familiar with, the majority of sports franchises now utilize web chat to interact and communicate with customers in real time. At the Atlanta Hawks we've been utilizing this tool for a little over 2 years now and have, until recently, looked at it solely as a sales tool. That changed a few months ago when communication between one of our reps and a customer made its way onto Twitter via Darren Rovell. With the NBA lock-out in full force and the ever growing interest in the NBA as a business, a potential customer took it upon themselves to post a chat they had previously had with one of our reps. Without knowing, the rep's reach was dramatically impacted as their words stretched from coast to coast in a matter of seconds. What had once been a person to person conversation began to take a whole new shape with just one tweet.
A recent article, “Social Media in Sports and Entertainment: Three Mega Trends in 2012,” noted that “fans now have the 1:1 relationship with the player, the team, and/or the league.” This increased ability to connect certainly became evident to the Hawks and this particular rep after this encounter. Luckily for us, the rep handled himself well and represented the Hawks as we would want him to do. But it did bring to the forefront the very real threat on the one hand and the positive impact on the other that social media can play in our business.
From the “threat” perspective, we had to take a step-back and retrain our reps. We had to make sure that they were truly aware of the impact they could have on our business. Also, they had to realize that their voices could be projected among millions of profiles as the voice and face of the Atlanta Hawks without their even knowing. We had to make sure they handled themselves appropriately in all correspondences with prospects and customers alike, ensuring that they never misspoke and only communicated what they knew to be 100% true. Even more challenging due to the circumstances, were the lack of questions we could answer via email or chat due to NBA lock-out communication policies. Reps were forced to change the subject and control the conversation. The phrase, “Big Brother is always watching,” took on a whole new meaning.
From the opportunity perspective, we began to analyze the positive impact social media could play on our business, if handled appropriately. We began to encourage sales reps to consistently utilize LinkedIn accounts by joining existing groups and creating new, specific, tailored groups that would enhance their reach within the market. Additionally, we asked that they use LinkedIn as another form of communication with C-Level executives in the city of Atlanta in hopes of breaking thru the clutter. And for those comfortable enough with Twitter, we asked that they take a creative approach and build out specific business related Twitter handles to harness their reach into the Atlanta market of celebrities and athletes, allowing us to connect with individuals that we were once unable to reach before via conventional means.
By taking this proactive approach, I believe we’ve not only become more efficient, but we’ve also given our reps the ability to manage their personal brands as true entrepreneurs. We’ve become more nimble as we now have the opportunity to react to customers in real-time as reps are now using Twitter to interact with season ticket holders in-game to conduct seat visits. As we look forward at the business of sports, and even more specifically sales, I can only see the social media presence growing. We need to learn to utilize it as a positive tool.
As we found out, much like Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks and author of Onward did, nothing is confidential…and that might just be a good thing.
Article in Huffington Post - http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beverly-macy/social-media-trends_b_1115659...
Onward – Howard Schultz – page 27