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The Business Forum
Using Social Media
To Connect With Big Companies
By David J.
People seem to think that social media is
about attracting followers, “friending” people, liking this, that or the other,
or spending hours trolling Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. It does not
have to be that way.
What if you use social media to simply
attract big companies to you? Let me show you how to do this.
My understanding comes not as a result of a
carefully crafted social media strategy, but as a result sitting back and
watching what has happened.
Coming to this understanding was my 1% for
a day. I hope it will be so for you as well.
There are 2 potential avenues to be aware
of when leveraging social media:
The big company you are targeting is most likely monitoring social media
The public relations (PR) firm used by the big company you want to
connect with is also likely monitoring social media
Here is my story about how I have been able
to leverage these 2 avenues.
I have been a Dell customer since 2004.
Back in 2009 and 2010, I experienced a few Dell business execution issues.
I heard another story or two and decided to write about it on my Fast Company
Expert Blog. I wrote the article on a Friday afternoon and pushed it to
Fast Company that evening to be published the following week. I chose a
provocative title: “Dell
used to be a fast company,” probably not the title that Dell would wish
for in Fast Company! The article was not mean-spirited or ranting — it
simply pointed out areas where Dell had stumbled and could improve.
A Dell social media person contacted me via
email about 90 minutes later — before the article had even been published by
Fast Company — and asked if we could talk the following week. I said,
“Sure.” Soon after, I was invited to be a member of Dell’s Customer
Advisory Panel (DellCAP). Dell obviously must have felt I had insights
that would valuable as they sought outside perspectives to improve their
business by learning what real customers are experiencing.
Was it important that the article was in
Fast Company? Not at all! None of the other 29 social media folks
invited to participate in DellCAP blogged for a prominent media outlet like Fast
Company. Dell, like many big companies today, trolls the Internet to find
out what is being said about them so they can reach out and help as well as
implement corrective action.
PR firms are also on the lookout for their
clients and troll the Internet. A few weeks later, Dell’s PR firm
contacted me about meeting them in their San Francisco office. Knowing that I
blog for Fast Company, they offered to make introductions to senior executives
who come into town for pieces that I might want to write, they have seen that I
am invited to media events — often paying my travel and accommodation to attend,
and they said they would look for opportunities within Dell to make
introductions. All of these things happen with regularity. I enjoy a
wonderful relationship with Dell’s PR firm.
In a Fast Company blog post called, “What
Dell is doing to create customers for life,” I challenged a PC World
survey that was unfairly critical of Dell and HP. HP’s PR firm contacted
me the same day the post was published to thank me for defending HP and offered
to make introductions to anyone I wanted to meet. This is when I reached the
conclusion that social media monitoring is not an accident — the big companies
do this with great discipline and follow-up as appropriate.
Here is another example of using social
media to help with my mission of meeting prospects within Dell. I recently
authored a Fast Company blog post called
“If I sell you my company, will you respect me in the morning?”
piece, which I strategized with Dell’s Consumer, Small and Medium Business
internal PR team before attending a major media event, enabled me to meet and
interview the heads of four recently acquired business units plus the Senior
Vice President of Corporate Strategy. I wanted to meet these executives
and see if I could learn about the “secret sauce” of Dell’s merger and
acquisition process. The article research opened the doors. I doubt I would be
able to pick up the phone and get these people to sit down for an interview.
This piece forged relationships in an enjoyable and exciting way.
Do you ever see areas where a prospective
client could improve that you could write about? Of course you have!
Social media can be a terrific way to create your superhighway into big
companies. But you have to use the right bait:
Then, when you hear from the company or
their PR firm, begin to create an enduring relationship. It is a very
effective way to create marketing gravity.
Gardner, has held senior management positions in Product Development,
Manufacturing, Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and
Product Management. He joined Tandem Computers in 1979 where
he was responsible for Corporate Documentation Standards for
Tandem's highly configurable and expandable computer
systems. In 1983, he designed and implemented a
Configuration Guide for Dialogic Systems instituting a
process that greatly simplified a complex, modular product
such that the field sales organization and international OEM
customers could easily define their order requirements. This
methodology satisfied the product definition needs of sales,
marketing, engineering, manufacturing, customer service and
finance. David founded his consulting practice in 1991. He
is a graduate of San Jose State University (BA) and Santa
Clara University (MBA). David is a member of the Society for
the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) and has been Board
Approved in the Area of Configurable Product & Services
Strategy and Implementation. In 2010, he was inducted in the
Million Dollar Consultant® Hall of Fame. Out of
over 1,000 consultants who have completed Alan Weiss’s
mentoring program, only 26 have been inducted into the Hall of
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