Les Adkins Uncovers Social Media Blunders in Corporate Business

Strategy is to create people that are loyal to their brand or their organization. Their strategy is to talk about what their customers want to talk about, as opposed to telling them what to talk about. The ones that fail, are the ones that try to create a commercial on social media and wonder why it didn’t happen. They didn’t spend the time building up the trust and creating loyalty. The trust is a big thing, you’ve got to spend time building that trust before you can then cash out that trust. People want to go on social media and just have people buy stuff. If I don’t trust you, if you’re brand new and I don’t know you, I’ve never heard of you, until you build trust with me, I’m not going to buy anything from you.

                        I think the companies that are spending the time developing the success of trust and developing a atmosphere of, “We do what we say we’re going to do,” are the ones that are succeeding. The companies that are saying, “We want you to do what we tell you to do,” are the ones that are failing. There’s only been one company, that I’m aware of, that was successful in putting out a product and saying, “You need this,” and that was Apple. Every other company that has tried to do that hasn’t done so well. It’s about building that trust and trusting the people that work within that organization, and letting those people have a voice outside of the company where people can get to know them.

                        Think about it this way, would you buy a car from just a used car salesperson, or would you be more likely to buy a car from, same used car, from a college friend of yours, that you’ve known for all your life? That’s the same type of mentality that people now have to have. If I don’t know the people that work in the organization, I may not do business with them. Why do you think they have things called, Angie’s List? Its got a name to it, she’s on the commercials. You feel like you know her, you feel like you trust her. Clark Howard, he doesn’t sell anything, but he’s got a radio show that talks about how to do things the right way for your financial stability. You know him, you get to know him through his radio show, through the things that he says.

                        If you look at it from a social media standpoint, it’s about truly understanding who the voice is of your organization. Whether you have ten people working for you, or ten thousand to five hundred thousand people working for you.

Craig:              To take advantage of a successful digital or social media strategy, what lessons do companies need to learn before they do that, to really take advantage of that?

Les:                  I think the biggest lessons, we’ve covered already, but the biggest lesson is that companies have to do thing differently than they have in the past. That hundred year old steadfast way of doing business is over. I think that some companies are having a hard, hard time learning those lessons. That mentality of, if I’m a public company especially, that mentality of, I’ve got to make sure the analysts are okay, and the shareholders are okay, and that’s it, is proving time and time again that it doesn’t work. I’ve got to make sure that not only the analysts are okay and the shareholders are okay, but my customers feel like we value them and the employees feel like we value them.

                        If you look at a great example, I always forget the name of the company, I wish I had written it down, the shoe company that …

Craig:              Zappos?

Les:                  Yeah, Zappos. If you look at Zappos, they’ve always been really big on customer service. Special little gifts that may show up in their box by the people that are working on the line. They got big really fast. What recently happened, is they went through and they, basically, offered people buyouts to leave the company and told people that, “Okay, well maybe you’re not a good fit.” They’re going back in and recreating a world that made them successful. They’re saying, “Okay, we’ve gotten big, now we have some people who just look at this as a job. We don’t want those people working for us.”

                        Now, they’ve gone back to their original roots that made them successful to make sure that not only are all the other things being taken care of from a public standpoint, but that the customer is taken care of, and that the employees working within the organization are being taken care of enough that they want to take care of the customers. It seems like common sense, but if you look at, I always call it, corporate logic, it’s fuzzy logic, “Well, if we do this, then we’ll be successful. If we get rid of five thousand people, then our caps will raise, and we’ll look like we made a return.

                        Those days are coming to an end, because the world now can see what you’re doing. All it takes is one post, or an article, or something that gets out into the digital world that says, “Hey, this company did this to make it look like they had a profit, but really they hurt ten thousand people’s jobs.” Just recently, around this past Christmas, you heard about all the companies that were laying off people right around Christmastime. Do you think those companies that did that built a lot of loyalty and trust among the community? I would say no.

Craig:              Yeah, with Zappos, that was part of their hiring process. They’d let you go through to make sure you were a cultural fit, because it was about the relationship. It was about the end user of their service. They’ve always wanted to be known more so for their customer service than the product that they sold. Now, as you know, or if you didn’t know, they sell practically anything through Zappos.

Craig Williams

Craig Williams is a best selling author and television personality featured as the "Last Man Standing" on NBC's "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump. He is a iReporter for CNN covering business innovators and trendsetters.