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Business success with social media: Pushing the boundaries of communication

social media connecting technology

It’s strange to think that only a decade ago the majority of organisations viewed social media as a curiosity; fun for teenagers and young adults perhaps, but of little value in the business world. Fast forward to today and attitudes have completely transformed. Social media engagement through networks such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn is now an essential part of customer engagement.

Using these networks and tools, organisations are discovering new ways to showcase products, provide more responsive customer service, build brand loyalty, demonstrate thought leadership, reach new customers, recruit employees, manage reputation, issue news and more.

Don’t be superficial

In reaction to the social media and digital marketing phenomenon, organisations have rushed to expand their online presence, often embracing every new channel, network, app or tool that comes along. In their speed to market, organisations are concentrating more on being part of the bandwagon than focusing on the service, sale and brand reputation management opportunities.  The crucial step on pushing the boundaries in social and digital media is about much more than simply having Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Meaningful engagement requires a digital strategy complete with goals and objectives. It also requires organisations to listen to every relevant piece of conversation so they can understand public sentiment. Analysis helps to determine the business impact and opportunities arising from these conversations. Finally, engagement requires prompt and direct responses to take control of the conversation, resolve negative experiences and create long-lasting, positive relationships.

It sounds straight-forward, but often the outcomes of social engagement are outweighed by the effort that goes into creating and managing a social presence. This is due to the manifold challenges that the speed of communication, vastness and the very nature of the medium present. Some of biggest difficulties include tracking different channels for relevant threads, managing the speed of interactions and responding quickly, engaging the consumer consistently, identifying and following social media engagement best practices and improving strategies accordingly.

Bring it all together

Tracking all possible social sites individually and manually is an almost impossible task and involves the danger of missing out important conversation threads or noticing them too late, after the damage has been done.

Therefore, the best way to coordinate and support a social strategy is to use a technology platform that brings together all the relevant discussion threads about the brand, from all the target social media channels into a single work environment.

In addition to helping build a complete picture of the brand’s public image and ensuring maximum awareness of social conversations, a platform steps employees through work flows that ensure the most appropriate person is alerted to issues, responses are facilitated speedily – even across different time zones and geographies. A platform also provides a robust mechanism to handle adverse situations like social floods or conversation blasts.

More than a tool for talking

Ideally, having created the means for serious social engagement, you’ll want to do more than simply monitor online conversations with (and between) customers.

In the last few years, a growing number of organisations have adopted social channels to deliver first-line customer support. Social networks, web chat, email and SMS are commonly used to receive and answer customer queries, clarify doubts, handle complaints and provide information. Customers like the flexibility that these channels offer, while businesses enjoy the cost advantages that come from these typically shorter, faster engagements. The main requirements for all these tasks are an ability to constantly track and monitor relevant channels, and a mechanism to respond within a specific turnaround time.

Maintaining your good name

Social media is also playing a crucial role in reputation management. Much has been written about the damage that can be inflicted on a business or brand by social media. Criticisms that are unanswered may remain accessible to readers and cause damage for years to come. Therefore, monitoring what is being said about your organisation or brands and responding accordingly are essential. Watching cyber space to track every relevant comment or conversation needs a kind of vigilance and meticulousness that is possible only with technology support.

Just as your customers and prospects can learn about your organisation through social channels, the same tools offer a unique opportunity to observe your competitors, monitor what they are doing, learn from their mistakes and adapt your business strategies accordingly.

Know when you succeed

With so much potential for activity, so many networks and tools, and so many variables, it’s imperative to tightly manage every social campaign from go to whoa. Set objectives, select an execution methodology, plan how you will assess success, and use analytics to map parameters such as volume, sentiment and sources.

By analysing and benchmarking activity, your organisation will learn what works and what doesn’t. Before you know it, your organisation will become adept at identifying and using best practices. You’ll incorporate these lessons into future campaigns. And you’ll wonder how you ever managed to communicate efficiently with customers, partners, employees and other stakeholders in the days before social media.

About the Author:

Anthony Seaegg is CEO of Aegis Services Australia, a global outsourcing and technology services company focused on enhancing customer experience.   Anthony has more than 25 years of experience in customer relationship achievements working with several multi-national companies.  He also served for four years as the National Chairman of the Australian Teleservices Association.