Chris Brogan: "Listening is the best kind of sales"
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Despite the enormous growth of smartphones and tablets and the opportunities provided by social media, businesses are not leveraging usability to listen to their customers.

Speaking at the Social Media World Forum event in London, Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works, outlined the emergence of the new “consumer culture” and the need for businesses to use the opportunity of such tools to build two-way relationships with their customers .

“Social media is tools and technologies, they become something useful when people use them in a way that is to them beneficial,” he said, before adding that he is “fascinated” by how many organisations aren’t using devices to bridge the gap between the offline and the online world.

The mobile device is “the best social media network in the world”, said Brogan, but most websites are not yet ready for mobile and, contrary to popular belief, QR codes are not the solution.

“Email marketing is alive and well, bad email marketing is dead,” says Brogan. “Bad sloppy email marketing looks like the rudeness you expect from bad marketing. Don’t send email from @donotreply – does that look like a relationship experience waiting to happen? Enable the ability to hit reply rather than a call for action.”

He asked the question: “What is your intention and where do you want [your customers] to go?” Organisations should be using new technology methods such as social media to engage – the end goal is to build a relationship, he said.

Just showing up to Facebook and Twitter is no longer adequate; neither is saying you have no interest in embracing the digital channel, according to Brogan. Instead, organisations must “craft interesting searchable content that people can find”, such as creating answers to FAQs.

His most fundamental advice is to personalise the relationship with your customer, treat your customers like real people - “make your buyer the hero.”

In defence of Google+

Turning to Google +, Brogan said he has witnessed companies “whining” about using a new social network – “Trends go where they go. We don’t create trends. They just happen”, he says.

Defending claims that Google's social network is a ghost town, he claimed that more than 100 million people signed up faster than any other social platform. Brogan views Facebook as a network that is based on helping people find connections  with old school friends and view images of your other people’s children. “You rarely find credible business leads on Facebook,” he said.

Whereas Facebook is built on social interaction, Google+ is built on social engineering – sharing and searching for things based around intents, he claimed.

But again, returning to his main message of personal relationships, Brogan advised businesses not to have a corporate page – when you create a business page you can’t add people, they must add you. Instead, build a personal account, he said. Choose a ‘normal’ picture of you to represent your business account, not your logo. Find likeminded people and start talking to them.

He conlcuded: “The coolest part of marketing to social business isn’t about how you speak to them it’s about how you listen to them. The best money to be made is in the listening to people who are forever communicating their needs. Listening is the best kind of sales.”

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