There are often claims that social media is a key tool for customer relations, and I’m certainly not going to debate that. After all, being able to be more responsive to customer concerns and needs is always helpful, and it fosters a better relation with one’s customers. Yet in spite of how helpful and affordable it is, there is still a sense of reluctance from some senior executives about really getting involved in social media.
According to research from Ovum (News - Alert), confusion and resistance from executives has left social media underutilized and underdeveloped for many companies. Although very little is needed to invest in social media, many CEOs and senior executives don’t feel the need to invest much at all in it, as they don’t see how it helps their overall strategy.
However, failing to keep up with social media trends can prove more costly than adopting them. There is a race to reach customers first; gaining their trust and business, and social media is a great way to do that. Those who fail to make the most of it can and will fall behind their competitors, who are fostering relations and communicating with potential customers.
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There are some industries that are taking to social media more quickly than others. Retail, of course, was among the first to use social media to get advertisements and special deals out to their customers (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t following the Spirit Halloween store on Facebook (News - Alert) for discounts and offers), while transportation, technology and hospitality are also taking to it quickly. Others, though, such as banks and healthcare providers, are far more reluctant, if for privacy and security concerns.
Not only that, but it’s important to keep up with the types of social media that are still in use. While Twitter (News - Alert) and Facebook are still in, there are also emerging sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr. Google+ remains in a limbo state of “Oh yeah, I guess I do have an account there” for many, while other sites, such as Ping and Google Wave, have had their time and are relevant no more. Woe is upon the company that kept investing time and energy into a MySpace (News - Alert) page these past few years.
“As the space matures, outsourcers will need to develop or integrate with platforms that are able to work with these new sites and aggregate data for analytics,” says Margaret Goldberg, IT services analyst at Ovum. “As outsourcers further expand their social media offerings and their own software, it will be crucial to make these as flexible and robust as possible in order to reduce cost, lower time taken to adapt, and more quickly analyze the massive amounts of data on these sites.”
Goldberg adds: “Enterprises need to understand how social media fits into their market strategy, and then figure out how to leverage it – using outsourcers to best execute this. Analytics are the real end game for outsourcers. This is a growing market across the outsourcing spectrum, and customer service/social media is no different. Outsourcers should also figure out how to manage the continuing shift to mobile, and develop tools in order to monitor and analyze social network customer engagements generated on mobile devices.”
In the end, social media can prove an essential tool for many businesses. It can grow brand awareness, help cultivate customer relations, and keep one up to date on customer concerns and opinions. There may be some industries that feel they may risk data or secure information, but the risks are minimal if done correctly. Just like any user of social media should know, don’t post anything you don’t want people to see, and it’ll be fine.
Bottom line: The bigger risk lies in not using social media and falling behind everyone else.
Edited by Allison Boccamazzo