I was just asked why retail or consumer goods companies should participate in social networks. It’s a question a lot of them are asking themselves right now. These are the reasons I think they should participate:
- Because you’ll have to. In 1994 companies were having the same conversation about Web sites. It’s not a matter of if, but of when. Your customers will increasingly expect you to participate in social networks and your absence will be glaring.
- That’s where your customers are. Willie Sutton said he robbed banks because "that’s where the money is." Retail/consumer goods companies should participate in social networks because that’s where the current and future customers are. Because social networks enable community, people can now hang out with their friends online. They’ve chosen their online home; why not get an invitation to their online party?
- People go online first. People turn to online venues before they visit restaurants, bars, or stores to read reviews, get directions, find specials, or research products. Participating in social networks makes it easy for your customers to find you.
- People love their brands. If a social network user loves your brand, they are perfectly willing to share their love given the opportunity by becoming a fan or friend of your social network profile.
- The new word of mouth. Because of this ability to share brands through friends lists or fan pages, social networks are the new word of mouth. People trust their peers far more than they trust experts or institutions. When someone becomes a fan or friend of your social network profile, they are endorsing your brand to their peers.
- People are talking about you. People have always talked about companies, products and brands but until now those conversations have been extremely limited in time and reach. Online social networks expand these conversations exponentially and make it easy for you to participate. Your customers are increasingly expecting you to join the conversation.