Putting People Before Profits Leads to Profits (And That’s What Social Media Is About)

A local news station runs a news vignette titled “Shame, Shame, Shame” from time to time. An investigative reporter tells the story of a business sleaze and uncovers shotty business dealings that screw consumers.

Recently, there was a story on a small airline that basically gouged travelers that could not fly to their destinations because of the Sandy hurricane. The airline only refunded the equivalent of $50 to passengers. The reporter’s tag line – “Shame on Spirit Airlines for putting profits before people.”

This line has stuck with me. It highlights how many unsuccessful brands approach social media. They look at social media as a set of channels to do direct sales. As I mentioned in the past people need to know what successful social media looks like. And the right approach to social media success is to have an unwavering focus on the interests, needs, and wants of your target audience. Put the people first. If you do so, profits will follow.

people first

This slant was highlighted once again this week. I heard our Chairman at Ryan Partnership, John Kuendig, tell a story of his first meeting 17 years ago with founder, Dave Ryan. John shared how Dave told him that if you focus on the people (keeping clients and your employees), the revenue and profits will come. Not that we don’t care about numbers, it’s just that putting people first is the right line of attack for successful business.

This is so true for all aspects of business. But there is no other business or marketing practice area where this is more imperative than social marketing. Why? Because social marketing is not just about your brand’s social engagement. Social marketing also comes from people talking on their own about brands … the brand need not be actively involved in the conversations. This happens all the time. So brands need to make sure that they are truly viewed as committed to the people. And while social channels are an excellent place to prove this customer-centric mentality, they also reveal facades and insincere attempts at relationship building.

You’ve seen it in your life. How many times have you come across someone who seems friendly and caring only to find out that they are a manipulator acting solely for there own gains. And people are quick to call out ill-fated maneuverings and operations in public social forums and platforms – so beware.

Conversely, if brands use social marketing as a vehicle to listen to their audience, make sure they are delivering valuable information, compelling content that is interesting and entertaining, and overall have a keen focus on delivering to people, success will be the long term result. Success that can be measured in loyalty and advocacy. And loyalty and advocacy certainly lead to revenue and profit. Yes, you should care about revenue and profit, but social media makes brands more transparent (whether they elect to do so or not). This transparency can work for you or against you and I think it is pretty obvious to say that if you continually demonstrate care for the consumers and prospects you will be on the right end of that outcome. Focus on people and their positive experiences with your brand. Use social to build meaningful and strong relationships … the residue of sincere care will be revenue contributing to increased profits.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve

8 Comments

Filed under brands, customer relations, customer service, economy, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Word of Mouth Marketing

8 responses to “Putting People Before Profits Leads to Profits (And That’s What Social Media Is About)

  1. Greed is a powerful emotion and as long as people have the ability to cut corners without consequences, they will do so. What’s great about social media is the ability to get a message out fast and spread quickly. If you want to take a look at some best practices in getting ahead of a crisis, look now further than the 1982 Tylenol Recall: http://www.ou.edu/deptcomm/dodjcc/groups/02C2/Johnson%20&%20Johnson.htm. To your point, they put their customers ahead of profits and soon gained record profits.

  2. Putting people before profit is a worthy aim. And it seems there are so many examples of the practice providing powerful results for business. It makes you wonder why anyone would doubt it!
    Social media again shows itself through this lens, to be the great democratiser.
    Surely this must be the endgame of any company looking to become ‘social’.
    Thanks Steve, another great read

  3. Mark Longbottom

    People will be around much longer than the technology, more importantly they will build new technology. far better to relate to people and make the human interaction more relevant and effective than just play around with another sales outlet. Always insightful Steve🙂

  4. Jim Matorin

    The platforms are there, but what about the fact that according to an IBM survey only 16% of your CEOs are social, 57% indicate they will be there in 3 to 5 years; are they putting people before profits right now. We are going to need more people to subscribe to your mantra.

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