Jim Turner and I worked together at One By One Media and Bloggers For Hire when business blogging was a new and unproven way to reach customers. Yes, it was often a hard slog, but blogging was hot in the media and a lot of people were being told to “get a blog for us” so we did. Now times are a wee tougher and Jim is seeing the predictable backlash.
I can see a pattern to something that is beginning to make me think that the economy is hitting even the professional blogging industry. In some respects there has been an increase in companies seeking ways to help reduce their marketing, advertising and other online marketing budgets through the use of outsourcing bloggers. This helps them reduce the spending they have in those areas yet increase their productivity. This has kept my phone and email smoking of late from those companies in that camp. In other areas, like for instance in the larger companies with larger budgets, I’m seeing the opposite. It’s time to shed the ballast is their minds. What is considered ballast? Anything that is not nailed down. Employees and departments that were once hiring professional bloggers in the field are tightening their belts and putting their noses to the grindstone. It is time to protect them and their own. Department heads are having to do with 10 what they used to do with 15 people. What was once considered a luxury of having money to pay someone to blog, department heads are now having to do for themselves, or worse yet, not at all.
The question I have to ask businesses thinking about pulling back from social media, etc, when does it ever make good business sense to stop listening to your customers?
That’s what this is really all about. Sure starting a blog is about writing and Twitter is about … umm … stream of consciousness (or conversation on ADD, you choose), but what is really is opening the door to talk and listen to your customers.
Fine, this sounds like touchy-feely hooey, but the times when companies have listened to me I’ve appreciated it and they’ve gained my loyalty.
Seems to me, then, that when times are tough, when you need more customers, when don’t want to lose customers, that doing things to help that along should be considered a “good thing”.
Okay, maybe you don’t want someone to blog for you on your business blog on a regular basis, that’s okay, but keep the folks like Jim around to bounce ideas off of and help guide you in the conversation. You know what though, if you do have to tighten your belts and budgets, do more with less, doesn’t it make sense to give you and your employees a leg up on social media? How about you give your employes more time to do other things and let someone make sure your blog is updated, current, and relevant?
See now is the time when tapping into social media is a wise investment. Social media isn’t some new thing now, it is how people are talking, working, and sharing.
Are you still listening to your customers?