the social media phenomenon continues to blossom, so does the
business community’s uncertainty about how to capitalize on it.
Despite this conundrum, corporate social media is exploding across
the internet. You see it everywhere; national brands promoting their
new Facebook fan pages or their new Twitter accounts; industry
leaders asking you to Like, Follow, or +1 them.
this activity begs the question; what are companies getting for their
efforts? What’s the payoff? Are these flashy new Facebook pages
driving sales? Are regularly scheduled Tweets really deepening
relationships with customers? Granted, there are many documented
marketing successes attributable to Facebook and Twitter, the fact
remains these channels rely more on outdated push messaging
rather than the more productive practice of collaborative,
the aforementioned social media have their uses, the most beneficial
interactions occur when customers have more freedom to control and
direct the conversation. Customers are generally willing to comment
on their experiences as consumers but they must be empowered to do so
on their own terms, with their own voice. Companies who comply and
listen will outperform those that don’t.
provided the proper venue, customers will often share incredibly
valuable insights, opinions, experiences, ideas, and even criticisms.
Consequently, consumers should be encouraged to participate in the
conversation and express themselves without reservation. Further, the
most productive communication will occur when individuals can
interact with one another directly and build on the dialogue.
Promoting genuine, two-way discourse is the key. Unfortunately,
Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the like don’t support this type of
the social business forum. Having evolved from the ubiquitous
message board, social business forums are proving to be tremendously
effective in opening and fostering high quality lines of
communication with customers. Forward thinking companies that commit
the resources to hosting high functioning, customer-centric forums
often acquire valuable business intelligence that might be too
difficult or costly to obtain by other means.
soliciting customer engagement through discussion forums can provide
other valuable benefits to a company: Significant product improvement
suggestions are often realized; customer support services frequently
become more cost efficient as customers share solutions with each
other; the list of potential returns is limitless. Beyond that, there
is another great advantage not to be discounted. That of the goodwill
and sense of community generated by a company earnestly partnering
with its customers in the collaborative, collective environment
fostered by discussion forums.
and more, consumers are embracing the reality that they are now in
charge. The information age has spawned a new market democracy where
consumers abhor being spoon fed trite advertising drivel. They want
real information, the inside scoop, and they now have the resources
to acquire that information. Loyalties and buying dollars will
continue to funnel to those forward thinking vendors who engage with
consumers and provide the information, transparency and tools
consumers need to improve their positions. Therein lies the key to
marketing in the new millennium; empowering the consumer.
many of the vogue new social media channels offer businesses the
opportunity to present themselves in ever more unique and personable
ways, it is the company that provides true customer-centric tools and
resources that will reap the real advantage. Social business forums
are proving to be just such a tool.
Social Marketing Photo
By designer_akhil from Pixabay