I don't have to explain to you that a big part of human communication occurs without us even knowing it. We smell and sense fear, affection, tension, pressure and even love.
We "read" body language and we have a gut feeling about the person we are communicating with. First impressions, a sense of attraction, trust or maybe disgust.
And of course there is the way we have learned to look at the world and people, ages ago. Education, culture, early experiences, you name it. We often call all these abilities and ways of interpreting the unconsciousness, "that what we cannot explain", the unreadable, allow me to call it the sixth sense.
How you call it depends from your way of looking at the world and life. Are you religious or an atheist? Are you a sociologist or marketer? Do you prefer the views on mankind of Freud, Jung, Maslow or Seth Godin (the last one was a joke)?
Communication channels are most effective if you use all your (six) senses :
see how the six senses apply to social media marketing
With the six senses there still is no communication, but you need them to be able to "connect".
A connection is the basis of a dialogue and a conversation. It's the basis of communication and the start of a possible relationship.
In marketing, we like to call these senses, that enable us to connect, "channels" or "media". And we wonder if and how we have to integrate them. We are talking about omni-channel, cross-channel, multi-channel, holistic and integrated now. Which is kind of weird.
When communicating and connecting with people I never wonder if I only need my mouth, eyes and ears. I just communicate with what I have.
The same should apply in business. If you want to connect and engage, you use all the "channels" that you have. And of course you combine them: to communicate you need to offer the people you want to talk with, various "channels".
In fact, in this social media and digital day and age, it's often the opposite: people decide how and where they connect with you and your business.
Sense and sensibility: the six senses to get and stay connected
Let"€™s have a look at the six senses and how they apply to marketing and communication in this social media marketing era.
Sight: monitor, track and "€˜read"€™ your customer
Since people are increasingly using online media in the various steps of the buying process, we have fewer opportunities to actually see them, meet them and "€˜read"€™ their needs, attitude and buying signals. In social media marketing your eyes are monitoring and tracking tools: to see those signals of your (potential) customer and where he is in the buying cycle. Furthermore, you will need all your "€˜senses"€™ to see if what you are doing in social media marketing results in value for both, you and your customer, as I will develop further.
Hearing: listen before you start talking
The days of broadcasting in marketing are over. On top of that, people can now broadcast themselves. They have the means and social channels. Sometimes they will shout loud and clear, reaching a large "€˜audience',"€™ and sometimes they will whisper in a one-on-one conversation. When that conversation happens you should listen to it, even if it"€™s not with you but about you. Listen and learn how your business is perceived. Listen before you start talking. And when you start talking, listen carefully to the answers.
Taste and smell: what"€™s in it for your business and your customers?
When you see and hear what people are doing by monitoring, tracking and listening to them, you can start talking. If speech was a sense, this post would have been called the "€˜Seven senses of social media marketing"€™. When interacting with people, (potential) customers, via social media and other marketing channels, you are getting closer and start connecting. You need your eyes and ears here too. But you also need your other senses, taste and smell, to detect the value of those conversations and interactions. Do they taste sweet or bitter? Do you connect or not? Do you smell an opportunity? Is there value for your business and your prospects and customers or are the interactions leading nowhere?
Touch: engage your customers
If the conversations and interactions you have with people taste, smell and "€˜feel"€™ good, it"€™s time to add an extra layer. "€œGood"€ connections become relationships and ultimately new business or, in the case of existing customers, result in increased loyalty. To achieve this you need to "€˜touch"€™ people. You have to give them a tap on the shoulder or shake their hands. You have to put them in the spotlight, engage them and touch them in their hearts and souls by continuing to listen, respond and offer value. Touch and engage your relations and customers, and you will have a community, a "€˜fan base"€™, people who like to share because you do. Ultimately, that"€™s what social media marketing is about: community, conversation, respect and engagement. And that is something you have to deserve.
The sixth sense: perception and trust
All of us have our past experiences that have determined profoundly how we look at the world and at people. These deep-rooted ways of perceiving reality and relationships often lead to prejudice, a healthy (and sometimes unhealthy) dose of skepticism and a need for certainty and stability. It is that need that often leads to a lack of flexibility and a conservative attitude, inspired by fear of the unknown, regarding emerging media and changes around us. Sure, it is important to measure what you do as a marketer, and it is important to take care of your brand. And, yes, it is difficult to "€˜give"€™ more control to people and let go a bit of your brand. However, in the end, the taste of the pudding is always in the proof. And to integrate social media in your marketing activities, you need to have a strategy but most of all the will to communicate, share and build relationships with your customers and the whole ecosystem of your business.
Respect and you will get respect. Trust and you will be trusted and become a valued voice in the social networking reality. Open the corporate doors and enable people to have a word with you.
Building strong relationships with customers in the social media world is based upon these six senses and communication in the true sense of the word: a two-way dialogue where trust, value and respect are key.
Sure, there will be people saying bad things about your company, and you will need to be more customer-centric and "€˜open"€™ but if you use all your senses to measure and listen, what is the risk?
After all: people are having conversations about your business right now.
So why not join them?
Summary - the six senses of social media communications
In order to communicate with people you need a mouth. Without it, you can't speak and have no voice. You need ears. To listen. However, you also need a nose to smell, eyes to see and often the ability to touch, to shake a hand, to show your affection with a hug or to motivate with a friendly tap on the shoulder at the right moment.
You can still communicate if you have lost the ability to speak, listen, smell, see or touch. However, unfortunately the communication is less valuable.
Key takeaway: marketing communication should be like human communication. It is about using all your channels - or senses "€“ in an integrated way to build connections and relationships with customers and prospects and to be able to listen to them when and where they want to talk to us.