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To get along in society, an individual needs social skills. They facilitate interaction and communication with others. Examples of social skills include how to greet someone, take turns in conversation, be a good listener, and maintain a conversation.

The same is true for a company: To get along in the world of social media, a company needs social skills. They’re essential if the company wants to have an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship with consumers. So how does a company acquire those skills?

Acquiring Social Skills

The social skills a company should have are similar to those for people, including being a good listener, taking turns in conversation, and skills involved in maintaining a conversation. It’s been said that when you have good social skills, you aren’t thinking at all about yourself in social situations—how you look, how you sound—you’re thinking about the topics you’re discussing and about the other people. That could just as well be said about companies—when interacting via social media, companies with good social skills aren’t focused on talking about themselves, they’re focused on listening to, learning about, and understanding the consumers on the other side of the conversation.

One way a company can acquire social skills is by adopting tools like those NetBase offers, which make it easy to listen to and understand what consumers are saying—a key social skill. A company can then use that understanding to improve its relationship with consumers and better meet their needs. In other words, NetBase tools give a company the social skills it needs to succeed in the social media space, which is becoming a prerequisite for succeeding in the marketplace.

A company that hasn’t adopted such tools lacks the social skills to benefit from the rise of social media. Such a company is still conducting a one-way conversation: It’s talking to consumers through traditional channels, but not listening to what consumers are saying back, and even more importantly, not analyzing and understanding the implications of what they’re saying.

Missing the Conversation

Think of it like this: A candidate travels around the country, giving speeches on various topics. After each speech, many of the people who attended go to a nearby cafe and discuss the speech—what the politician said, what he didn’t say, what they wanted to hear him talk about, what he should talk about next time, what they think of him and his positions, and so on. But … the candidate doesn’t make much of an effort to attend the get-togethers and he can’t be in multiple cafes at the same time. As a result, he has little idea what the reaction to his speeches is, why people have the reaction they do, or how he could make better speeches and be a better candidate.

Companies that haven’t acquired the social skills to listen and learn from the online conversation are just like that candidate. And just like him, they’ll lose out to their rivals who have social skills and use them to sharpen their messaging, positioning, product development and more. Being anti-social—for people and companies—is becoming more career-limiting all the time.

If you’re interested in this topic, there’s a new book out called The Thank You Economy that talks about how companies today need to change their behavior with respect to their customers.