Whenever you hear about social media, phrases like “shared experiences” are usually around the corner. And this is as real and as tangible as a bill board on Uhuru Highway, but more potent.
Almost a fortnight ago, on a Sunday, I wrote a tweet saying that my girl goes to church for both of us. Seconds later, someone retweeted that tweet and added “me too”. Another person re-tweeted both these tweets and added, “I co-sign”. I was impressed that it wasn’t just me. An hour or so later, my girlfriend who is living in a different city called me and asked me what my “prayer request” that Sunday was, and I told her – with her guidance of course on what to request for – I am really alien to this. After that call, I tweeted once more that “my girl has just called and asked me for a prayer request.” To which the guy who had retweeted my earlier tweet replied, “believe it or not, me too, though she called a bit earlier.” Another reply to this tweet was full of prayer requests like “Prado, House…” These guys made my morning that Sunday.
I know, this almost sounds farfetched but like Jeff Koinange loves to say, “You simply can’t make this stuff up.” But if you not believe me, check out my timeline.
The reality is that our experiences are not unique to us. If you have gone through it, chances are that someone else went through it too. It has been said that there are six degrees of separation connecting any two people in the world. This means that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people meaning that for you to reach someone else on earth; you only need to find the right six people to help you make the connection. It has lately been claimed that with the advent of social media, the six degrees of separation have shrunk to three.
Social Media has made it possible for people to finally join the dotted line that has been to date a fragmented “shared experience.” By this I mean, we all shared these experience prior to social media but without knowledge of who the next person you had this experience/interest in common with was. And the process of aggregating people around a shared experience was quite cumbersome if not impossible. But with social media, people with whom you have shared experience are only a tweet or a search engine away. Regardless of which corner of the world we reside in, social media has made it very probable that people who share experiences will meet. This represents a critical opportunity or threat for businesses today depending on their approach to this social world.
If having something as peculiar as my girlfriend going to church on my behalf in common with a couple of my modest number of followers on Twitter, can you bet that we do not have you as a Bank, Shopping Centre, Insurer, ISP, Airline etc in common too?
As a business, you need to wake up to this reality. Understand the impact of this shared space to your business and even bottom-line. For instance, if I was to come to your business and got the best treatment, my tweeting this will get people who have received similar treatment there to come out and affirm this therefore building positive sentiment about you online. It will even get other followers or friends who have not tried you out to inquire some more and bring business to you. On the other hand, if I come to your business which is known for shitty customer care, my tweeting of the bad experience will also get people out of the woodwork who will recount their own stories of horrible customer care and bury your brand. Believe me, this is not farfetched, it is happening all over today.
Waking up to this reality is no longer a matter of choice. Every person who comes through your door is a broadcaster by virtue of their reach and influence in these social networks. Whichever way you treat them, rest assured they will share it and you will be the better or the worse for it.