Social media is forcing businesses to think like small-town shop owners

Rather than turning businesses into automatons, technology is bringing things back to a personal level -- so says one author and entrepreneur.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

With the rise of sophisticated information technology -- complex enterprise systems, terabytes and petabytes worth of data, and sophisticated algorithms to make sense of it all -- it's natural to assume that business has become far more automated and impersonal than ever before.

But the author of a recent book on the topic begs to differ. In particular, the rise of social media -- made possible by complex IT -- is leading to even greater "humanization" of business relationships.

Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy, believes that with social media, customers expect more of a connection with the business they're dealing with.

AOL Small Business provides a snippet from his book:

"At its core, social media requires that business leaders start thinking like small-town shop owners. They're going to have to take the long view and stop using short-term benchmarks to gauge their progress. They're going to have to allow the personality, heart, and soul of the people who run all levels of the business to show. And they're going to have to do their damndest to shape the word of mouth that circulates about them by treating each customer as though he or she were the most important customer in the world. In short, they're going to have to relearn and employ the ethics and skills our great-grandparents' generation took for granted, and that many of them put into building their own businesses."

What Vaynerchuk alludes to is nothing new at all, it's a basic principle that constantly needs to be learned and relearned by each generation. (And all too often gets overlooked.)  Many companies assume buying all the latest and greatest technology will provide competitive advantage. But competitive advantage has nothing to do with technology -- and has everything to do with making the customer say "Wow;" of enabling employees to go against the grain when it comes to putting the customer first above all else.  Technology is one more tool that could make this possible, nothing more.

It also brings back to mind an observation John Naisbitt made many years ago as one of his "Megatrends:" that we have moved from forced technology to "high tech/high touch."  As he put it: "The more technology we introduce into society, the more people will aggregate, will want to be with other people..."  That is, every step we make into the tech realm will be counterbalanced with desire for greater quality in relationships.  Social media is proof of this.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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