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January 10, 2017

Are Legacy Companies Giving Customers What They Actually Want Online?

DENVER, CO — In 2007, Facebook became a standard communication tool. The Social Age had arrived. Now, a decade later, many legacy companies have yet to acknowledge the true impact, and embrace the power, of social media. Yes, they’ve leveraged social and digital media for “push” marketing: antiquated, one-way broadcasting of brand agendas.

But they still struggle to use their platforms to actually connect with customers, potential customers and employees. They fail to engage them – so miss the opportunity to thoughtfully develop them into brand ambassadors.

Empirical evidence of this disconnect between what customers want from companies online and what they get is, in fact, startling: the most recent estimate reveals that seven in eight of consumers’ direct social messages to companies go unanswered for at least three days.

“To thrive in 2017, brands must become known for using social media to talk with their stakeholders, instead of at them,” says Mark Babbitt, CEO and founder of YouTern and author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. “The best companies will shift from simply implementing the “nuts and bolts” of a social media strategy to seizing impromptu opportunities online to, one person at a time, build an authentic, engaged community. Across the board in online marketing, polish and finesse have officially taken a back seat to transparency and heart.”

How, then, can companies begin seizing those one-on-one opportunities to build a solid online community of brand ambassadors? According to Babbitt, through paying attention to (and passing) three important tests of social intelligence:

  1. Active Listening and Engagement At one time, companies broadcast carefully crafted messages to consumers. Today, those broadcast messages aren’t enough to win, or keep, loyal customers. Brands are now expected to immediately engage with people who touch their brands online, both the champions and the chagrined. People want to be heard. They want a voice. For even the largest companies, that all starts with active listening and human-to-human engagement – one person at a time.
  2. Leveraging the Testimonial Economy In the Social Age, what a company says about itself is considered branding, or selling. Consumers today are far savvier. Instead of relying on what the company says on its website or in advertising, customers rely on objective reviews from customers. The result? Sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can make or break an entire organization. The best companies are already meeting the Testimonial Economy head on, and leveraging the digital phenomenon. Those that aren’t are falling way behind their competition.
  3. Build a Community of Brand Ambassadors In the Social Age, even for the best products and services at the best prices, old-school marketing and selling aren’t enough. In today’s economy, brands must gather like-minded customers, potential customers, and employees together in a digital community. Within those virtual walls, a “member of the club” mentality must be created and nurtured. The world’s best companies are embracing the concept of community – and in the process are generating loyalty on a global scale.

For legacy companies, passing the three critical tests of social intelligence is a time intensive activity; an investment. “It requires shifting from a transactional to relational mindset,” says Babbitt. “But the payoff is that you build unparalleled brand awareness and unmatched customer loyalty.”

About Mark Babbitt:

Author Mark Babbitt is CEO and Founder of YouTern, a social resource for young professionals that Mashable calls a “Top 5 Online Community for Starting Your Career.” With decades of experience in avionics, electrical engineering, marketing, startups, recruiting, personal branding, and succession planning. Babbitt’s equally an expert on career coaching, internships, resumes, and professional development.

A prolific blogger and speaker, Babbitt is also President of Switch and Shift, a co-founder of, and one of Inc. Magazines Top 100 Leadership Speakers. Babbitt is co-author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive. Tens of thousands of followers benefit from Babbitt’s daily doses of digital branding how-tos on Twitter at @MarkSBabbitt. To learn more, visit