The New Rules of Engagement

It's About EngagementLast May I explained why I don’t like to get paid in full and in advance noting that this usually meant the client was more interested in the tax write off than in building a quality website. I added that it was next to impossible for me to do good work when a client is simply not engaged in the process.  In reviewing that earlier post it occurred to me that I sounded like a curmudgeon. (Okay, sometimes I am a curmudgeon). So in an effort to soften that perception, let me tell you what, in my opinion,  makes an ideal client.

It’s About Engagement

We recently began to hear the catch phrase Web 2.0 – a clever term that signaled the beginning of a new, more collaborative, participatory web and whose fundamental rule, according to Tim O’ Reilly of O’ Reilly Media is that “users have value”.  And that is the essence of today’s social web. It’s not so much about a web site as it is about a web presence. If your web site is your online home base, then your social profiles are your online outposts feeding vital information back and forth. But what’s really changed is the underlying objective. It’s no longer about businesses using the web to push their marketing message down people’s throats. It’s about establishing and nurturing online relationships. And like all relationships, listening is more important than talking. The web is a two way street now and smart businesses understand that it’s about using the vast array of social tools at our disposal to engage their constituents.

A Case Study – Victoria Station, Salem, MA

John Andrews, Executive Chef, Victoria StationJohn Andrews, the Executive Chef and Social Media Manager at Victoria Station in Salem, Massachusetts, understands the importance of building relationships. That’s why it’s a pleasure to work with him. He actively posts new status updates, photos and videos to Victoria Station’s Facebook page. Vic’s Boathouse is the new lounge at Victoria Station and John uses twitter on a regular basis to let his customers know about special promotions, musical happenings and more. Victoria Station’s homepage features a Youtube video, a MailChimp newsletter signup form and a dynamically changing calendar of events. In the true spirit of today’s self manageable web, John uses Squarespace to maintain the Vic’s Boathouse website and to edit and customize photos. John regularly checks in with his friends and contacts through foursquare, a social site that offers new ways to explore your city, earn points and unlock badges for discovering new things. He is, in a word, CONNECTED. But what really impresses me is the very visible link from Victoria Station’s homepage to its Yelp page. Why does that impress me? Because while the vast majority of what I see there are positive four and five star reviews, a few are less flattering. By letting me see those too, I get the message that Victoria Station is not perfect but that John is willing to listen to criticism and willing to improve. That’s how to build authentic, meaningful relationships. And meaningful relationships build successful businesses.

In his wonderful post titled The Biggest Secret of Social Media, Chris Brogan makes the simple assertion that “if you don’t like people very much, it won’t work very well.” John Andrews likes people.

How are you using social media to build relationships? What has been your experience? Is it working for you? Let’s talk about it.

About Marvin Kane

Marvin has been floating in and out of cyberspace since the mid 90's and is committed to producing beautiful, high quality, standards based websites for a wide variety of businesses. He believes in keeping it simple and saying it well.
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  • Don

    Social media is (or are) a useful tool. Seems to have gone from useless to useful. Great for connecting, groupsourcing, and research. Also for B2C marketing. B2B for SMB remains to be seen.

    • Marvin Kane

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Don. I agree that social media has gone from useless to useful. I also think we're still at the beginning. More tools to come. The challenge will be how to use them.

  • Ron Dobrosielski

    Hello Marvin,

    I do like Social Media a lot. For Facebook I haven't really figured out how to get clients yet bu I'm working on it. I do find that it's a great way to get in touch with your old friends and family members you dont get to see much any more. The tool I like to use for my business is Craigs lists and my website. I post my ads on craigs list and when potential clients click on the link they get connected to my website and from there they get to see who I am and search for what they need. Budda boom budda bang! just like that I end up with great clients. I hope they dont change a thing.

  • Steve Navarro

    Because my business is highly regulated (Fianncial Services), I cannot use social media as effectively as say Kane Works so Linked In is where we are allowed to play. However, I do have a FaceBook page (no reference to my business) and hope it sheds a little light on me individually. Sometimes I like people, and sometimes I don't,…so I'm working on it.

    • Marvin

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation Steve. I understand about the restrictions placed on you by your industry. Glad you're using facebook though…and I suspect you like people more than you think you do. One way to tell? …. how many people like you. I'm pretty sure that's a big number.

  • John Stavaridis

    I mostly agree with Shirleyanne. Facebook is very important to my business to develop a repoire with clients. I love being able to post pictures and information about my business, and people (some of whom I don't even know) leave feedback and comments where everyone can see. I think it's an invaluable tool. I have had several people decide to hire my services solely because of my Facebook page. Younger generations use Facebook as their main form of communication. Try getting a teenager (or even some folks from my generation) away from their page. I mean, whens the last time you saw a teenager TALKING on a cell phone. Times change – and this is the way it's going. I also liked Marv's mention of the web 2.0 – it really is different. On a personal note, I like it. The subtle changes in how people find information online morphs all the time. I wonder what "web 3.0" will bring. Thanks for the blog, Marvin.

  • Shirleyann Soltys

    LinkedIn may be the most popular social media site for business networking, however, it has a sterile quality to it. You don't use LinkedIn to get to really know people. You only really get to know their resume – where they've been, who they know, and what articles they've written. You can't get a sense of their personality with that information. Facebook is where you can build people relationships. On more than one occasion, I have been told by a new contact/client that they looked me up on Facebook and they were comfortable calling me because we liked the same movies, music, whatever. I wouldn't promote that as a successful business strategy, but it definitely broke the ice with these folks before I even answered the phone.