In The Financial Times today there is a feature about how companies are using social media experts to help them understand the blogosphere and engage with bloggers in order to boost sales and strengthen relationships with customers.
Hopefully the piece will reassure some corporate sceptics about the value of social media!
The piece points out that Dell is generating $1m in sales through Twitter (the micro-blogging service). The company has 80 Twitter accounts and 20 Facebook pages. Also 59 of the 100 leading US retailers have Facebook pages.
The FT piece shows that companies who want to be customer-centric need to be where their customers are. I can’t imagine there is any company that is not getting attention through social media. A lot of companies are still holding back from engaging even though conversations are going on now about their products and services.
Rather than allow conversations from your customers to go on behind your back, we strongly recommend that companies begin to listen to what social media networks are saying about their products and services.
Then companies can begin to engage with and become useful to those networks. If companies value word of mouth then they should be on services like Twitter which is in effect global word of mouth.
A lot of the fear or barriers to engaging with social media reminds me of the nineties when companies were fearful of having web sites because they always thought they would be hacked.
One word of caution though, once you have understood clearly what customers and stakeholders are saying about your business through social media, it is important to carefully think through your strategy for engaging with social media and how it will impact your relationships with stakeholders and customers. Simply setting up a presence on Twitter or Facebook will not necessarily work unless you have a clear purpose and have thought through the value and usefulness you can offer through your networks. It is also critically important to observe and be sensitive to the cultures of social media channels which are fast-evolving!
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