You don’t need a Masters degree in Facebooking — is there such a thing? — to know that social media is bringing customers and sellers closer than ever before. Back in the day, transactions this intimate usually took place with a red light above the door.

Social media enables consumers to make more informed decisions and share how they feel about them, thus forcing companies to raise their game or perish. At the same time, your company now can gain more insight into each customer/guest/client and market to them more precisely than ever before.

Decibel Blue has opened its fair share of restaurants and retail stores across the country. Whether quick service, fast casual, apparel or a wellness provider, what they all share in common is that thanks to social media, there no longer is an opportunity to launch “soft.”

Once upon a time, you could point to the “pardon our dust” sign and customers either forgave or forgot but their opinion didn’t travel very far. In a world where Yelp, Amazon and Trip Advisor have given people digital megaphones, you better open your doors perfectly and be ready to respond to each and every one of your critics.

On the other hand, after years of dominance, a professional services client of ours is looking to reach a whole new target demographic. They are literally marketing from scratch. Pay attention job seekers, this applies to you too. After identifying the decision maker and getting into the room, a salesperson has to find a way to connect personally. Who among us has not resorted to pointing over to the credenza behind the customer’s desk, shamelessly saying – “your kids are adorable”, or “great boat”, or “is that a pentagram?”

Thanks to social media, we are arming our client with a treasure trove of personal intel about their prospective customers that would make Vladimir Putin blush. Alma mater, kids’ names, marital status, fave music, hobbies, bankruptcies, professional network — you name it. The kind of stuff you used to hire a private eye to collect. Now, our client could bring a picture of themselves photoshopped next to the customer on his fishing trip. Creepy, I know. I worked for an immensely influential executive 20+ years ago who insisted his staff work together as a team because “information is power.” This holds true even more today.

It doesn’t matter if your company sells coffee, skin care or a lawyer’s time. You can dismiss social media as being irrelevant to your business, and you can challenge it, asking to prove it works. The simple fact remains that your competition is using it to acquire information and share it. They are doing it about you, your customers and employees, right now.

What are you going to do about it?

Tyler Rathjen

Tyler Rathjen is a partner in Decibel Blue, where he leads some of its highest-profile lifestyle clients. Whether developing strategic marketing plans, establishing creative programs, or managing digital, advertising, social media, influencer and branding projects, Tyler has a wealth of communications expertise. Tyler began his career with Decibel Blue in 2006 and has since overseen the launch of more than 120 franchises across the nation, including 80 Dunkin’ Donuts stores.

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