We should all now be somewhere between "aware" and "immersed" in the sharing and consumption of vast amounts of information about friends, acquaintances or indeed complete strangers that is Social Media. Social Media has matured to the point where companies are no longer asking whether it should be part of their marketing mix but how and where they should participate.
In Singapore, there are already more than 2.5 million Facebook users as of September 2011, which represent 55.9 percent penetration of the entire population or 70.8 percent penetration of the online population. There are also more than 641,000 LinkedIn users, and more than 800,000 Twitter accounts. (Source: Facebook Stats - SocialBakers, LinkedIn Stats - LinkedIn Ads, Twitters Stats - www.famecount.com)
More importantly, beyond merely browsing and viewing, Singapore consumers are looking for more proactive dialogues with companies over social media, and see social media as channels and tools to get customer service.
Accenture's Global Consumer Survey 2010 revealed that 67 percent of surveyed Singaporeans would interact directly with companies on social media sites/digital channels about their products or customer services and 86 percent agreed the increased use of technology in marketing and sales has enhanced their overall customer service experience in the past five years.
The research also found that when facing a negative experience, while nine out of 10 consumers spread the word to people around them; up to 30 percent will share their bad experiences via social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.
In fact, the research also found that one-fourth of Singaporean consumers like seeing company's involvement in Social Media, and also will be more likely to do business with such companies.
For companies, the growing importance of social media represents a unique opportunity to engage customers directly, from soliciting ideas and feedback on products and services, to providing customers services, and to market and sell to customers.
What has Social Media given us?
So far, Social Media has brought opportunities such as "crowdsourcing" of new ideas, to "word of mouth" marketing channels, from "assisted online customer service" to "cloud recruiting".
Starbucks crowdsourced 80,000 ideas from which 50 became new products, eBay users engaged through social media spent 54 percent more than other users, Dell made US$6.5m in incremental sales from Twitter discount coupons alone, and 28 percent of LinkedIn's users are "hireable" senior executives.
Fundamentally, social media has brought interactions and inter-connectedness between consumers to a new level. Everyone, Everywhere, Anything, Anytime.
Challenges facing early adopters...
All this opportunity has come with its challenges as consumers raise their voice and businesses see their ability to influence fall....
- Consumers now have the means to educate themselves about your product, prices, functionality, warranties, etc. long before they come into contact with your agents or your stores. They can access this information from home, from work, while out shopping and can instantly compare your prices with local and international competitors even while they are browsing in your store or talking to your agent.
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