Getting Social Media Precisely Wrong

Sign Danger Two Way FeedI just got back from two weeks off, really off as in “I read 6 books” off.* The whole family sat on a chilly island in the Northwest and just let the old mazooma roll in. I highly recommend it.

My time away generated the germ of a couple of meta posts about publishing in the era of social media. But, before we get to that I saw the worst use of social media on on my flight out. If there were social media police these guys would be doing hard time.

I use an off-site parking lot when I travel. They get all the fundamentals exactly right – there is always space, you are always picked up within 1-2 minutes, they are clean, drivers are pleasant etc. etc. They normally bring their A game to everything they do.

But as I sat there groggy at 4:30 AM on the shuttle bus I noticed a poster in the shuttle bus that made my jaw drop. The photo below isn’t all that good so I’ll summarize the headlines here.

We’re Social

  • Like Us!
  • Tweet Us!
  • Watch Us!
  • Connect with Us!
  • Check In Now!
  • Show Us Love!”

Social Media Mistake

What is missing from this picture? Certainly not exclamation points.

Not once do they mention the customer or give them a reason to do anything – it is all about them. Why would I tweet them? People who tweet at the level of “just parked my car” earn the ignore button. Why would I watch them on YouTube? Seriously – are they giving lessons on how to park? To save y’all the pain I actually looked up their YouTube video and as I suspected it is nothing more than an advertisement.

This is the old media mindset at work in the new media. You can just see the cigar chomping VP of Marketing shouting “Get me eyeballs!” and the team scrambling to get webstats showing traffic, any traffic.

But social media is a two way street. You must give people a good reason to interact with you and you need to conduct a respectful conversation with them when they show up. Nowhere should you be taking about yourself.

So in the spirit of bringing solutions rather than just whining here is what I’d do. Each of these suggestions could be employed by any company.

  • Focus on the services most likely to generate business – on this list only Yelp really comes to mind. Send an email to frequent parkers the day after they get home with a Yelp link asking for a review. Then respond to the reviews (good and bad).
  • Tweet regularly on airport conditions – busy, calm, delays, etc. – give customers a reason to pay attention to your feed.
  • Allow the members to link their frequent parker cards (yes they do that well) to social media and then give them awards for every 5th or 10th use of the card that is broadcast to their network. Give your customers bragging rights.
  • Create some videos with truly useful information for travelers (links to cool packing software, tips on how to pack light, information on when the best times of the day are for security lines, etc.). Skip the ads, provide a service.

This isn’t that hard – but you have to get out of the “me me me” mentality of advertising.

Now, go make yourselves useful to a customer….