Social media impact on businesses has benefited consumers

Posted on October 20, 2013 07:25 am

In an era where online brand profiles are often seen and judged before the real brand products or services, it is important to ensure that your brand identity presents a good image to your prospective customers. Social media has become an important part of modern business brands. Time when consumers are using social media frequently before making the purchase decisions is here with us. In the past, when customers wanted to discuss a product or service, they’d dial a call center and their problem would be addressed behind closed doors. Those were the days when only the customer and the company would hear the complaint or praise. Thanks to social media platforms like Twitter, Google + and Facebook such issues are now aired publicly to potentially huge audiences of potential buyers. A single customer complaint from someone with influence like celebrities or politician can have more impact on a company’s reputation than the best marketing plan. Companies have recognized what customers are saying online couldn’t be ignored and have began taking immediate steps to engage directly with them on forums and across social media channels. Social media has became a core part of any business functions and customer service, and it is clear that providing support for customers in the digital realm need to be a vital element of their social strategy.

A business owner I spoke to informed me that after starting the engagement with public in social media has seen a significant decline in negative commentary about their products and services, a proof that the ability to listen and respond instantly is a smart investment in any company’s future and a way to continually improve both business and customer relations. His company is also able to listen to what customers are saying, to react to feedback more quickly and efficiently, and to gain a greater understanding of their customers’ needs and wants. Social media platforms are increasingly being used as an important tool for building professional businesses. While social networking sites are of great assistance in promoting business brands online, they can also cause irreversible harm to your business reputation if not utilized in a proper manner. Research has shown that amount of interaction on social networking sites regarding your business makes it difficult to manage online profiles across different sites and every activity on your company profile can impact on how your prospective customer perceive you. Embracing social media means businesses get a unique opportunity to reach customers companies may not have the budget to target and a platform to complement or add value to traditional channels. What’s more, social media conversations can serve as an early warning system for issues that arise around company’s products and services.

I would advise any social media strategist to choose the right medium for demographic before creating a forum for customer support, evaluate target market to determine which social media channels are most likely to reach them. Support forums and discussion boards can offer a great way to offer solutions to the masses and connect customers with company’s experts, customers and supporters. In my opinion, Twitter offers a huge volume of 140 characters or less comments. That creates tons of opportunity for the brand to engage one by one with those talking about your brand, products or services. Social networking platforms also offer great opportunities to connect with your community members. Your customers are already choosing their platform of choice, and it’s important to meet your customers where they ply their trade. Personalization is key when engaging with customers, it’s important to connect with them on a personal level. People respond to people, so brands can lose credibility quickly if your communication appears to be coming from a robot. It’s a group effort because providing customer support through social media requires collaboration between customer service, marketing and product development to address an array of different problems. In order to respond effectively to issues through the social media, it’s important that your customer service team is trained on your company’s brand messaging and your overarching customer experience strategy. If responses aren’t in line with your brand’s wider goals, it could create confusion and impact customer satisfaction and retention.

Brands should also use social media as a supplement and not a replacement because whether we like it or not Social media won’t replace conventional support tools. They only provide a way for businesses to connect with customers real-time in the places where they’re already having conversations. Keep them updated throughout the process and once the problem is resolved reach out to the customer on the original social channel to ensure that they’re entirely satisfied. This will illustrate that you care about your customers as people and not just about extinguishing negative public commentary on your brand. Customers are finding a voice through social media and using it as a support channel more and more. Tweeting a help request takes fewer steps than sending an electronic mail or dialing a support line and it can also elicit an immediate response. There is need to be extremely careful while sharing information and make good use of social networking sites offer privacy settings where content being posted on your brand profile can be managed. Me think it does not cost you anything by never posting malicious content and retain consistency in tone of language even when a customer reacts angrily and as business brand ensure you always keep your profile updated. Multiple studies have confirmed that companies use social media to enhance their business objectives. Businesses have now recognized the benefit of social media as a communication platform that facilitates two-way communication between a company and its customers. Such a move helps support company processes and objectives that is not limited to customer retention, customer relationship, market research, customer base expansion, product marketing, cost control initiatives, public relations, sales and recruiting. Considering all that, Social media has had and will continue to have a huge influence on business and on how businesses engage with their customers and it would be naïve for any business to fail to develop and implement a sustainable social media strategy in order to successfully take advantage of this rapidly evolving environment.

Contador Harrison