We like to share the best practices on social media.
We criticise, over and over again, why firms do what they do.
We wonder why they don’t seem to ever get it right.
By “they”, I mean even famous brands like Home Depot, Chrysler, and United Airways.
But when we say all that, what are we comparing them to?
No, it’s not the best brand on social media. It’s not the international benchmark either. There isn’t any benchmark anyway.
When we criticise social media practices or suggest best practices, we always speak out of context.
In plenty of blanks, without considering the factors that might have played a role in deciding the outcome.
And the problem with this is not only making ourselves look foolish or almighty, but creating a disconnect between us and who we want to help.
So here’s 3 real-life advice I want to share with you.
1. Your customer is always right (at first)
I’m not saying this out of spite. But it is true. If you want to get into their head, first you need to put your heads together.
This means that the first step is always to build common ground between you and your customer.
You need to hear them out and show that you understand what they say. You need to think it through and show that you care about their ideas. You need to look into their eyes and show that you want to solve their problem as much as they do.
So here’s the bottom-line: Avoid fruitless discussions and arguments with your customers (or management team) in the beginning.
Building common ground is like planting a seed. Give it time to grow by giving it what it wants. Your customer is always right (at first).
2. A growing plant is your best testimonial
Giving your seed time to grow instead of forcing its growth has the added benefit of proving what you want to.
If all goes well in the early stage, then it provides proof that investments in social media are worth it. It also serves as grounds for you to take the next step - make a suggestion, analyse what has gone wrong and what could be better, all in context of the client.
Because you would have worked with the client for some time, they are more inclined to listen to you.
If all didn’t go too well in the early stage, it also gives you a chance to propose an alternative solution to the client. This time, they will surely hear you out, especially if they are staring at failure. Just don’t be an asshole and push the blame to your client.
3. Allowing the seed to grow slowly is not a bad thing
The good thing about a seed that sprouts slowly is that you can observe it, learn more about it, and become better at managing it.
After all, slow and steady wins the race.
I’ve had experiences working with clients that just wanted too much too fast. It was too much for me. I eventually failed and our contract ended a while into the second month.
Nowadays, my clients and I tend to communicate upfront and manage each other’s expectations. These expectations include the earliest date when the appointment is confirmed, latest date to carry out certain task, number of reviews and refinements, reasonable results after a specific period, what “side-effects” might happen at the beginning, and most important of all, to promise to give each other time to adapt our working styles.
Put simply, allowing your client to take command at the start and adapting to it can help you assimilate better into the new environment.
It is like a temporary shield that protects you from any possible blunders or damage as a result of your client’s strategy. Consider it incubation - a preparation phase for you to fight the real war.