27. huhtikuuta 2012

Connect with your customers

One of the challenges we have encountered is that departments within large organizations are often focusing on their own social media activities without any organizational wide coherent strategy. And, apart from being inefficient, this doesn't allow them to maximize the impact of cross-linking and keyword promoting that is at the core of SEO (search engine optimization) and viral marketing.

Social media is still not perceived by many managers as being mission critical; and indeed many organizations for the time being can continue to proceed successfully without engaging seriously with social media.

Zipipop's Collaboration Eggs showing how social media 
and cloud computing have opened up new spaces to collaborate

However, this is short sited because customers (and employees) are becoming evermore social, and will expect the better customer service and collaboration capabilities that they have become used to with popular consumer services and cloud computing. And, as this demand grows, the organizations that can provide fast and friendly customer support directly inside the social media spaces (e.g. Facebook, +, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.) will reap the rewards for investing in developing their social media monitoring and response capabilities today.

"Customer must be king in the web" - Financial Times

It is important to remember that these "social" customers are more networked and influential than customers have been in the past - where it was not uncommon for companies to put out products knowing their might be problems that, before social media, could easily be "managed" (e.g. the iPhone 4 antenna problem). So the days of relying "solely" on telephone and email support are rapidly coming to an end. This is the reason why Dell is investing heavily in its Social Media Listening Command Center.

There is an old adage that says; "Happy customers tell a few friends. Unhappy customers tell many more." And in the open conversations of social media this is amplified greatly. I would like to see top-level managers grabbing social media by the horns to improve business operations both internally (better collaboration) and externally (greater brand awareness & customer support).

But I also think social media could be a uniting focus for managers to better co-ordinate the activities of the core customer-facing departments: marketing, communications, customer support (and even HR) - who, without C-level support, will continue to be more concerned about their own budgets and activities, rather than the greater benefits that could come to the organization as a whole if they worked together with a clear social media strategy guiding them.

After that, with more company wide training, bridges can be built to further connect the employees, partners, and customers to form what is now being called a social business (or social organization).