Monday, June 8, 2015

The Magic Words That Can Help You Sell Social

I recently attended the IBM Global Business Services North America Executive Summit, a meeting to gather over 500 partners and some of the foremost industry voices in the business division for professional development and knowledge sharing. As an arm for event support, I helped partners navigate workshop rooms and had another small job: running a Twitter 101 demo to help partners create Twitter profiles and learn about the importance of a social media presence.


I knew many partners were on Twitter already and had amassed large community followings within their respective industries. I was there to help the ones who weren’t. There was no doubt that these partners had a lot to share and I figured it would be easy to convince them to use Twitter. It’s ubiquitous. It has a wide reach. It has access to real-time content. Many of their colleagues are on it. Should’ve been an easy sell, right?


As I set up the booth with a digital poster on “Twitter 101,” I waited as partners began to register and walk in. I scribbled a couple points on why Twitter was important and then sprang into action. I would walk up to partners, ask them if they were on Twitter and barrage them with some selling points if they weren’t. Most responded with resistance and the results reflected that: In three hours, I signed up five people.


I presumed that most people didn’t see the point of Twitter; it was definitely a hard truth for a social media junkie like me to swallow. I decided it would be best to dig into the root causes. The next morning, I tried a new approach. If I got an individual that wasn’t on Twitter, I would ask them a simple question:


“What holds you back?”


To my surprise, many more people stopped. These became my magic words. I hardly got anyone who said “I don’t see the point of Twitter” or “I don’t think it’s worth it.” Instead, I got variations of the following:


I don’t know where to start. I’m too old. I can’t keep up with the changes. I wouldn’t know what to share. I have no idea how to search. No one is interested in what I have to say. There is too much to learn. I’m late to party. I feel like I don’t have the time.


I realized that these reasons had little to do with Twitter and its offerings. They were more personal. They had more to do with fear and self-doubt than any perceived flaws in Twitter’s search tool or interface. Most people knew what Twitter was. They knew it was important. With the watershed IBM-Twitter partnership signed last October, many partners knew Twitter would have heavy industry implications. It came down to the fact that they were simply nervous.


Asking people what held them back allowed them to reflect and reveal their insecurity around social media. While Twitter’s technology would be hard to change, it was a lot easier to change someone’s mindset and attitude towards using Twitter every day by assuaging their expectations. I would share my own insecurities, teach them miscellaneous tips and tricks around content generation, branding and time management, and even taught some of them, to the chagrin of their teenage children, how to “selfie.”


I learned one big lesson: It’s not enough to understand the technology to sell social business. Whether its Twitter or IBM Verse, we have to understand people, their motivations, and their setbacks. We have to first empathize with the complexity of the human before we blame the complexity of technology. While in consulting training, I learned that big recommendations don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” approach; I realized customized recommendations were important even when taking 20 seconds to persuade others to use social media.


The results changed significantly after time was invested into understanding the resistance and many more partners signed up the over the next two days. Bottom line: Don’t make assumptions before you really try to understand the “why.” People might surprise you. 



from Social Business Insights Blog

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