Many businesses have looked to social networking to build relationships beneficial to growing their business. There is no questioning the power of social networking when used to engage customers, build respect and trust within a market niche. However, there is also many personal benefits of social networking as what happened with me this past year when social networking saved Christmas.
Yes, social networking saved Christmas for me and made me look great in the eyes of my wife.
Well before this Christmas shopping season kicked into high gear, my wife had dropped hints as to what she wanted for Christmas. Being diligent, I ordered things online to ensure that I beat the Christmas rush. Several gifts were also purchased locally to support the local economy. I thought I was doing great and had all my shopping done.
A few weeks before Christmas Eve, my wife indicated the one gift that she “really wanted” this year and it wasn’t on her initial “list” or anything that I read from her hints. I was panicking.
Here’s where social networking comes into play and saves Christmas for me.
None of the local retailers had the item, were not going to get it in until well after Christmas and getting it shipped online was not an option. How could I salvage Christmas for my wife and get her the gift she “really wanted” … let’s try some of the connections I’ve made online.
I contacted a friend and blogging partner from my social network, asked her to check out local retailers in her area. I got a text message back in no time saying that she tracked down the item but there was a catch – it was spoken. She had made arrangements to get the item the next day if it was not picked up by the other customer.
Fortunately, she managed to secure the item, pay for it and I promoted email transferred the money to her! That was step one in this whole social networking saves Christmas event.
Next, I had to get the item from her location to my location. I again turned to social networking and hoped that someone with the Christmas spirit would be able to deliver the item to me before Christmas Eve. I posted a message on my social network “Need Help! Wife’s Christmas Gift Depends on It!” and walked away from the computer, pondering other ways to get the gift from my first contact.
Within 20 minutes of making the post I was contacted by another person in my social network and told that he ran a transport company and had an empty truck passing through my area in 48 hours. He could get my wife’s Christmas gift and deliver it for me! Social networking was indeed going to save Christmas.
A quick text message and email to the first person who purchased the item was sent, delivery to the second person was arranged and 48-hours later, I picked up the gift on the side of the highway and on Christmas Eve, my wife was pleasantly surprised that I had managed to track the item down! Christmas was saved through using my social networking contacts!
You’re probably saying that this is something that any “friend” or “client” would have done in the situation. True, but what makes this social networking incident impress me more about the power of social networking is that I have never met either of these individuals – EVER! However, I had built the trust of these individuals through my online interactions and leveraged these to my advantage when needed. This is what Chris Brogan talks about in his book Trust Agents and how social networking can be establish businesses (and individuals) with a reputation that can be leveraged and harnessed when necessary.
Up until I needed to use my social network to my advantage, I had never bought or sold anything from these individuals. Our interaction was built solely online and the trust was developed because I had engaged these individuals throughout our online interaction to a point where I could call upon the relationship when needed. This is what both businesses and individuals need to understand about social networking.
I owe both Kim and Chris a great big thanks and a few beer when I do finally get to see them. They are great people who obviously understand the nature of relationships, even those built through online interaction. They are quality people and obviously great contacts and friends that I’m now indebted to for helping me save Christmas.
Social networking provides the environment to built trust through engagement. This trust can be leveraged when required. Expanding this aspect of social networking has amazing potential for businesses.
Yes, social networking saved Christmas for me. Businesses should realize that social networking has the same potential for their operations.