It’s been determined that good social media can’t make a bad company better, no matter how hard you try. Today your hosts Chris and David tap the enthusiasm and knowledge of the show’s special guest Peter Shankman to help make social media (especially in terms of customer service) more understandable, more useful, and more fun.
Peter Shankman, founder of the PR, Social Media, and Marketing Strategy firm The Geek Factory, Inc. and writer behind the blog http://shankman.com/ is also a public speaker, entrepreneur, and author. He has written three books: Nice Companies Finish First, Customer Service, and Can We Do That?! He is an international and national traveler with stories, experience, and tons of talent.
You’ve probably heard of Peter because of HARO – Help A Reporter Out – a database that allows reporters to find sources and experts to find reporters. He founded and ran the site until it was acquired by Vocus, Inc. In doing this, along with the rest of his acquired knowledge, he learned an important thing about business – it pays to be nice. He did some research and found that when you are even somewhat nice, it is shown that there are 40% product increases. Nice businesses makes loyal people.
This lead to his new book, published early 2013, Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management is Over and Collaboration Is In. The book explains that the “authoritarian cowboy CEO era is over,” or in other words, Machiavelli’s famous thought that it is better to be feared than loved, is just a little outdated.
The discussion of this knowledge on the show lead to David’s assertation that many business people are reportedly sociopaths, but after some analytical chatting with Peter in the self-professed ADHD-fest of an episode, any listener can tell that Peter really wants to help. In fact, since he sold HARO, he’s been consulting with the goal of proving how companies around the world are reinventing customer service.
Peter professes that although he loves social media, he believes that too many businesses are sacrificing customer service in order to use social media. “Social media doesn’t need its own special week, it needs a good swift kick in the ass;” he stated that nothing new can replace common sense or good quality service, and many businesses are now toying with social media based customer service instead of truly fixing problems.
(A fun fact to show that Peter practices what he preaches – see his Top 10 Tweet of 2011 about being met at the airport with a steak from his favorite restaurant, now that’s service!) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20096527-501465.html
As the episode progressed, the hosts and Peter started to discuss new occurrences and issues in the social media world. Cars can allegedly tweet through your GPS to let people know where you are, and apparently is it now possible for a car to tweet to you that it needs an oil change or gas. As the new Graph Search (a more intensive search on past “likes,”) on Facebook comes about, we realize that any type of privacy died 30 years ago.
This creates a sense of catch 22; to use social media and lose your privacy, or to not use social media and not get ahead in business in this world. Additionally, technology makes us weaker and stronger at the same time – it does our work for us while we are still expected to do things ourselves. However, some lack of privacy is helpful, especially when it comes to revenue. A company that Peter has invested in is called Knod.es, which is up and coming in the fundraising world. The program looks at social media “likes” of the people one interacts with and registers any data they create in a way that will be helpful to an investor. It is using small data information in a smart, intelligent way.
Peter believes that the concepts of “like-ing, fan-ing, friend-ing” are going away. Instead, our relationships will be “seen” by our social media and make updates to our accounts based on the information it gathers about where we are, who we are interacting with, and what we are doing.
But, as David counters, what about narcissism? People will still be friending each other and liking what they choose for an aspect of control. This contributes to the blatant misuse of Facebook. However, due to the diagnosed FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, everyone wants to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. Because of this, social media accounts are being used incorrectly, even if one has a good business.
However, we can probably all agree that in time, many of the negative “wrinkles” in social media will get ironed-out. And Peter Shankman definitely contributes to that positive evolution. Thanks Peter!
~ Naomi Barnett | July 9th, 2013