Social Media tools such as Facebook, MySpace and the umpteen others that have sprung up as a consequence of the success of the frontrunners really started out as a teenage craze. It was mostly college children who were found to have a page on these sites and the more senior, business types were non entities or “social outcastes” on these sites. However things have changed over the years and a number of companies are using these sites to improve their customer relations. Social networks can be used for marketing or to connect buyers and sellers. Businesses use profiles providing information to customers, vendors, employees or managers.
Social Media really virtually extends the water cooler and street corner bar social network to many more people, who are within a mouse click away 24/7. It enhances your ability to exchange, reflect, be inspired or to get help within a much shorter time turnaround than you have ever experienced in physical life. It also offers the possibility of brining into the network and having water cooler conversations with the customer.
According to a recent survey of The Coleman Parkes Research, titled CRM and Social Media: Creating Deeper Customer Relationships and commissioned by Avanade, Companies that adopted new social media tools are seeing improved customer relationships and an increase in sales. This survey interviewed 541 top executives spanning senior management, lines-of-business management, IT managers and sales and marketing executives across the Asia-Pacific region, North America and Europe. As of now however, most companies do not formal plans to manage the adoption of social media or leverage its benefits.
Social media can be an incredible tool for business, providing you with more customer insights, direct communication channels and the ability to measure the effectiveness of these conversations very closely. The potential payoff for corporate social media participation is enormous and can give companies a better sense of how they are perceived by their target audiences. They will be able to establish a two way dialog with key stakeholders and will be able to empower their customers to speak with them, not at them. But without a strategic approach to social media, it’s difficult to succeed.
But just like the internet is a mystery to the octogenarian, Social Media is a mystery to many managers in their mid forties. Thus while many companies are intrigued by the concept of social media, they have no idea how to integrate it into business practices.
The only way to take the mystery out of it is to use the tool as these are Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information. It integrates technology, social interaction and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.
As it is really about communicating using the Internet, let’s all get out there and start blogging and social networking on the interent!