High Priority!

Why Your Business Must Form a Social Media Strategy Today

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director  |  July 01, 2011

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

There has been an unworldly volume of social media related content filling the pages of media sites of late – and you’ve certainly read a fair amount within the pages of Customer Interaction Solutions as well over the past 18 months. Many arguments have been made for why social media should be part of customer service organizations, and how, particularly on the inbound side. But, one of the reasons social media can be such a tremendous asset is its nature as a two-way medium, allowing businesses to follow a basic principle of marketing: In order to succeed, your brand must be where your customers are because that’s where the power lies.

Where are your customers? In two places whose parallel growth is no coincidence – mobile devices and social media.

A very recent show of power by social media comes from the Great White North, where rabid hockey fans anxiously – and in futility – anticipated a Stanley Cup title from the Vancouver Canucks. When the team was bested in seven games by the Boston Bruins, riots broke out across the city, creating significant damage and a mess to clean up.

When a new day dawned, a Facebook (News - Alert) event calling for citizen action in helping the cleanup effort reportedly netted more than 11,000 followers, with more than 1,000 rallying to erase much of the evidence of the previous evening’s unfortunate devastation. The event organizer posted: “Once the embarrassing rioting has ended in Vancouver, let’s all show the world what Vancouver is really about by helping rebuild and clean up so it is better than it was before.”

And throughout the day, many of them posted updates and posts via Twitter (News - Alert), Facebook and other social media sites:

“Papa Glenn on way with garb bags and big van for garbage. Let's clean up our beautiful city.”

 “Just saw a 4-yr-old boy with a cast on one arm helping to clean. Now that’s what Vancouver is all about.”

“Getting word that everywhere is pretty close to clean. Let’s not leave anything. Let’s be able to eat food off the streets tonight!”

That the city was able to be cleaned so quickly is a testament to the pride and determination of the people of Vancouver. That the event was able to be coordinated to such scale within hours is a testament to the power of social media, which is why businesses can ill afford to ignore it.

Now, take that power and combine it with mobile advertising, which is steadily increasing and predicted to eclipse $26 billion by 2016 – equivalent to total online ad spend today – according to ABI Research (News - Alert). Among the most obvious channels for delivering mobile ads – and one that is already being leveraged by many smart businesses – is social media. Whether via Twitter or Facebook, customers are already receiving ads and offers directly, often directly to the mobile devices they use to access social media sites. Furthermore, in addition to direct access to customers by way of Likes, Friends and Followers, there is the added benefit of pass-through advertising, when customers post those same ads and offers to their Facebook pages or retweet them. Suddenly, you too can have access to 11,000 or more potential customers within a very short period of time.

Social media has become an almost unstoppable presence for a number of reasons – the same reason businesses must give it an ear – and a mouth. It’s a binding phenomenon, often bringing users with like interests together, ignorant of geography and technology. People engage in social media (just look at the numbers). It crosses the social barriers that traditional advertising has often struggled to overcome, relying on interpersonal relationships to create links. It’s simple, quick and cost-effective. It’s measurable – with the right technology businesses can easily determine the effectiveness of their social media efforts.

To learn from the experts in the field of social media and to find out how your business can leverage this vast resource in both inbound and outbound capacities, join us for three days of Social Media and Contact Center sessions at ITEXPO West in Austin, Texas, September 13-15, 2011. Our panelists, including representatives from Avaya, Genesys, Interactive Intelligence, Mzinga, Nuance (News - Alert), SugarCRM, and many others will discuss not only the strategies your business can implement for generating interest via social media, but also the technologies available to enable your customer service organization to react quickly to social media-based feedback and create customers for life. For more, visit www.itexpo.com.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi