Gini Dietrich

How Social Media Is Changing the Way We Do Business

By: Gini Dietrich | June 16, 2009 | 

Last week, I chatted with Sara Wilson, who writes for We talked about how social media is changing the face of franchising, which she then turned into a story. See it here.

But social media isn’t changing just the face of franchising. It’s changing the way we do business. All of us. Every business. It doesn’t matter if you sell to consumers or if you sell to other businesses. It doesn’t matter if you have a product or if you have a service. Social media is changing the way you talk to your customers and it’s time to get on the bandwagon.

Technology is changing so quickly that this isn’t about the newest and greatest social network (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). It’s about RELATIONSHIPS. It’s about connecting and engaging, one-on-one, with your customers at a very personal level. And the technologies, whatever they happen to be at this moment, are what allow you to do that.

We’ve only been using social media for Arment Dietrich since January. In the past six and a half months, it has:

* Developed an intense loyalty with our existing clients because they now see us as people and talk to us daily, even if it’s not about work. They see us even more now as partners…not as some vendor that does their outside communication.

* Created a brand for Arment Dietrich outside of our niche markets and outside of Chicago.

* Developed a way for us to create thought leadership, gain feedback, solicit ideas, and also balance criticism, which is making me a better leader (even if it sometimes hurts).

* Allowed us to prospect for new business leads globally.

* Created new interest from talent wanting to work here.

* Made us smarter…not only in the knowledge and wisdom we gain daily from the people we connect with, but also in how we run the business, how we work with our clients, and how we create our own category expertise.

Social media is not a trend. This is not a fad.  It is the way we all expect to communicate going into the future.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • In reference to your first point, how do you control when the relationship from client/company changes to a more personal level? How do you control the familiarity?

  • Lesley, I think the whole point is for companies to be more personal with their customers. People want to have relationships with the companies they buy from; in fact, 90 percent of Americans EXPECT to have a relationship with the companies in which they buy from. Take a look at how Zappos has done it. They’ve built extreme customer loyalty through social media that has helped their business grow exponentially.

  • Couldn’t agree more – the fundamental of any business is its relationships with its consumers, and their relationship with the organization, the product or service. So I’m sold – how can I get my clients/prospects to understand?!

  • Susan, buy Groundswell for all of your clients and make them read it. That’ll convince them.

  • Gini –
    I appreciate this post because social media is “changing the way you communicate with customers” which leads to changing the relationships. It allows the business to be more accessible and personable than some shallow authoritarian, faceless body.

    What’s amazing about this change is that many people are afraid of change. And quite frankly they’re afraid of their customers. They’re afraid of being naked and getting the hard core feedback that when applied can help the business be better and serve them better.

    I’m thankful for social media (Twitter) for “introducing” me to you. Because without it, I’m not sure how our paths would have crossed!

    Keep doing your best work. You’re fantabulous! (and yes, that is a word in webster-LOL!)

  • Over time, personal interaction within a social networking environment creates trust. In turn, it develops relationships, shares information, provides two-way communications, and provides points of reference for follow up. It creates a multi-tiered platform of information that benefits both business development and customer generation efforts alike. Often, simultaneously.

    Oh yeah. Without social media I wouldn’t know the great team at Arment Dietrich or for that matter, Gini…

  • For me the most important point you make is that it is not about the technology – it is all about the relationships. The technology of the past allowed us to reach more people. Social media has allowed us to connect with more people. There is a big difference! Your examples of what social media has enabled for your company are a testament to that difference.

  • Thanks so much for listing the value-add for businesses. I have heard a lot of talk lately about “prove the profitability” but great business leadership understands intangibles are hard to measure in a quantifiable manner against “profitability” and do not carry a ‘margin’ percentage.

    Businesses have an item on their financials called “Good Will” and a dollar amount is added to that line in the spreadsheet. “Good Will” is only generated through reputation and can only be built with great solid relationships. As you have mentioned, social media is providing another venue for those relationships to develop into stronger and more cohesive bonds allowing businesses to become flexible and learn more about what their customer wants.

    I might add one more. Without social media I would not have the incredible opportunity to network with many leaders in my field. Collaboration and partnerships have been built and I have learned more than I ever imagined. Before web2.0 I would have had to travel full time to conferences to build the large network I have – rather than run a business!

    Great post Gini!!

  • You have a wonderful talent for capturing the essence of a subject, Gini in a clear and intelligent way.

    And you’re so right about the importance of relationship; as PR people, we need to make sure we remember and nurture the ‘R’.

    I can’t recall who said that social media is the intersection of the personal and professional, but I think it is and that’s one of its greatest opportunities (and challenges, if a practitioner doesn’t understand the subtleties).

  • Gini, I am totally on-board with your response to Lesley’s question about how to control relationships with your clients. Social media allows businesses to establish personal relationships with their customers, all while maintaining a global presence. I think customers are frustrated with the impersonal nature of business and social media is a great tool to be personal again, especially for small businesses.

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