Nice Guys Win in Social Media

Last year I spent a phenomenal three days at the Web 2.0 conference. While there I had the opportunity to hear from Bob Buchof Digg.  Bob said something that stuck with me, and I believe still resonates today:

“Social Media is the ultimate Bullshit meter.” 

I thought about Bob this week.  As my partner Anthony Zarro and I continue to grow our digital marketing firm Drive Action Digital we chose to build a company around the values that we hold true.  We’ll service our clients to the best of our ability, we’ll be honest, and we’ll create a culture of truth.  As we continue to take meetings this continues to come up in conversation.  It comes to the forefront because most of the people we meet with are former clients who we’ve become friendly with over the years.

They trust us.

They understand our work ethic, and they’re drawn to like minded people who want to help them reach their goals. When I reached out to a friend today we spent 90% of our meeting discussing all of the “vaporware” out there. Companies that, on their own may have great technology, but get in their own way when they promise clients the world.  I’ve seen this time and again while working in social media. Drive Action Digital Soaring

The main reason why some executives are slow to move to social media is because at times, there’s an element of “snake oil” salesmenship that tends to go hand and hand with any new developments in the online world.

We’re in a darwinian world, for sure. However social media has a tendency to speed up the identification of said “snake oil” salesmen or untruthful brands. Technologies are rapidly identified as sub par.  Brands are called out on missed customer service opportunities, while those that go the “extra mile” are touted as heroes – Hurray!

So why do nice guys finish first in social media? Why are the brands that are doing it right, excelling so rapidly?

People trust them.

If they don’t trust them, they can access information about a brand, technology or service in seconds.  What used to take months of research can be gleaned in a moments review of blog comments, community chatter, Twitter or Facebook newsfeeds. The creme rises to the top because brand advocates have the means to communicate their delight.  On the flip side, they also have the means to shout about a failed order, poor customer service, or unmet goals.

Throughout my tenure at Buddy Media, I was astounded by the business that was generated simply by word of mouth. The team there delivered and delighted. Buddy Media didn’t need to advertise because the clients that loved the technology told stories to their counterparts and so on and so forth. The pebble started to roll down the mountain and it turned into a raging snow ball, and avalanche of positive chatter about the brand.  If Buddy Media didn’t deliver they would have been put out of business in a flash.

In social media, the nice guy finally has the opportunity to finish first – if not excel, and soar beyond all competition. The companies that ingrain this mentality into their culture are blowing away the competition.   Think of this amazing customer service story from Zappos:

Employees are trained to go beyond filling orders. Hsieh shared two anecdotes that exemplify how Zappos workers think.

A woman ordered a wallet, tried it out and returned it. Unwittingly, she had left $150 in the wallet. For days she accused her young children of pilfering from Mommy. Until she got a note from a Zappos warehouse clerk returning the lost bills.The clerk, who made minimum wage, could have kept the jackpot, Hsieh noted. Zappos also could have hired more warehouse security to prevent theft. But the CEO suggested it’s more cost effective to hire honest people in the first place.

Hsieh was asked why more companies don’t adopt the Zappos business model.

“Patience,” he said. Most corporations don’t want to put in the time to build customer service and a company culture.

“It’s whether you’re willing to make that commitment,” he said.

Wow.  I don’t know about you, but to me, that story resonates. This seems to go beyond just “good” customer service. Now this story is “out there” in a social ecosystem, I pulled it from the Knowledge blog by WP Carey School of Business, and now I’m sharing with you. I’ll Tweet this story, post it on Drive Action Digital’s site, and post it in our newsfeed on Facebook.  The word is out – Zappos are the nice guys, and they’re winning.