- The traditional "Company to Consumer" dialogue used by marketing for decades has shifted to a "Consumer to Consumer" dialogue that disrupts the clean, controlled flow from you to the market. Indeed, Forrester Research found nearly half of online users say information provided by other consumers is more important to them than data given by marketers of products and services.
- The speed at which customers and their opinions are moving as a result of Social Media means companies must be able to adapt not just their offerings but their formats and processes based on what they learn from observing customers.
- Not all consumers are Social Media "enabled" so you cannot drop existing means of servicing customer to fund new ones. You will have to find ways to operate differentiated customer experience.
The shift of power means customers are co-owners of your brand, significant influence lies within individuals within the "community", the lines between Marketing, Sales & Service have blurred, and data and technology have become essential enablers.
What do I do next?
Our experience suggests that the following three essential elements will help you execute a successful social media strategy:
1. Observe - establish the ability to observe and interpret what customers are doing - and importantly, saying. Social media monitoring tools can also glean both quantitative and qualitative responses to advertising campaigns for promotions, illuminate opportunities to improve one's brand, uncover significant unmet customer needs, and identify people who may be highly predisposed to a brand or product.
2. Embrace - embrace and do not try to control all the tools and social media that your customers are using and just join the conversation. This can start by simply "experimenting" with different customer experiences to discover those that resonate the most with each segment.
3. Evolve - Social media activities may originate in one department but as your adoption of social media grows to include sales support, product development, customer service and e-commerce, the operational complexity increases. Establish a governance framework that engages and establishes a common set of guidelines for each of the internal stakeholders and establish the forums to enable the organisation to develop collectively.
But don't hang about - the competition has already started.
Here in Singapore for example, DBS Bank recently launched a regional "Places campaign" in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Mumbai and Taipei in Facebook for online coupons and deals as part of a social CRM initiative to engage customers. Jetstar for example, uses Twitter to send out news alerts on flight disruptions and holds regular fare promotions on its Facebook page and even recruitment drives for its online followers. SingTel, on the other hand, allows fans who "like" them to view exclusive offers in Facebook, while allowing customers to make inquiries and get customer service through Facebook.
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