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What You Need Is Right In Front of You

social media helps you find what customers want

Sometimes what you need to help you make decisions is right in front of you, you just don't want to see it.

You Just Can’t See It. Or you don’t want to see it.

Over the roughly two decades that I’ve been involved with business, either as an entrepreneur, an executive director or a social media strategist, I’ve heard the same frustration voiced over and over again, in almost every market I’ve worked in.  After hours, weeks or sometimes months of seemingly endless meetings, late-night war room strategy sessions and presentation after presentation of focus group reports, eventually the people in charge of making the decisions for the direction of an organization bury their face in their hands and declare in frustration and defeat, “if only we knew what everybody wanted from us, we could just give it to them“.

This has applied to product development, marketing campaigns, service implementation…anything and everything a company (for profit or not) could possibly put together to offer a group of people.  “If only we could find out what our customers want…

Studies are ordered.  Thousands of dollars…or millions…are spent on consultants and burned up in labor hours.  When the senior management team meets to discuss, debate and dissect the data, 20% of the organization’s labor dollars are being paid out for each hour they cannot figure out what their audience wants.  At some point or another, late into the night, one of the people around the tables feels the frustration of a seemingly insurmountable task.  They want to be home with their family, they want to get back to the work they were hired to do instead of trying to figure out puzzles…they want to solve the mystery of how to move forward.  But how? And then the idea is presented:

We should try social media. I know we already have a Facebook and Twitter page, but instead of just posting something once a week, why don’t we ask the people that follow us what they want, and then listen to them? Also, why don’t we pay for a monitoring service so we know what people are saying about us and even our competitors? People are already telling us what they want, we just need to listen, reply and implement”

The silence only last for a moment, before a chorus of “we will lose control of the message” and “we can’t create a forum for negative comments” starts. The boss makes an expression that is a combination of fear and patronization and simply says, “that’s too risky, we’re not doing it” before starting a discussion about when the best time to meet again will be to tackle this impossible chore.

Sometimes what you need is right in front of you, you just can’t see it…or worse yet, you don’t want to see it.

Why You Don’t Need A Facebook Vanity URL

Facebook Vanity Custom URLUPDATE: Of course I grabbed my URL (http://www.facebook.com/mattsingley) in the interest of keeping my name every place I can get it, but I still will use the following information to direct people to the page.

A little later today the great URL grab of 2009 will be upon us…Facebook is releasing “vanity” URLs and they’re going to go quickly.  What this means is that instead of having to go to http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682259362 to find me you will be able to type http://www.facebook.com/mattsingley and get to the same place.  Nifty?  Perhaps, but not really necessary.

I like to keep everything in one place, and feel very strongly that this is a best practice for brand management.  With that said, my solution for complicated (or even not so complicated) URLs like Facebook has been to create pages within my own domain that forward to the site in question.  If we have ever met at a trade show or convention and we have traded cards, you will notice that mine do list a link to my Facebook page: http://mattsingley.com/fb

You can do the same, and it’s relatively simple.  I think the easiest way is to add a bit of HTML code to a page that you create, here are the steps.

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