We know many businesses are struggling with what to do about social media. Lots of companies are dabbling with little or no effect. Many people see it as an inconvenience and are only active in the space so they are seen to be doing something.
The smarter companies know it’s here to stay and they can benefit from it. The key though is integration. This can happen at a number of levels, the simplest being integrating social media into your marketing communication. Jeff Bullas gave us a number of common sense ways to integrate social media with your email on a recent BTalk episode.
But you should also be integrating social media into your core systems — like your CRM tools. Avanade’s Jeyan Jeevaratnam says that in this new world customers should be able to choose not only which channel they use to communicate with you, but also who it is they interact with. That level of sophistication can only come about with well thought through systems and processes.
Part of the problem is that many companies still treat social media as nothing beyond a marketing activity. Ogilvy’s John Bell says every department in your business that has external interactions will need to use social media to communicate with their respective communities.
In fact it goes beyond that — the tools of social media should be used within your business and then gradually opened out to include customers in whatever way is deemed appropriate. You can’t communicate in a new way if your internal systems are all old-school.
Jodee Rich says it’s not just about one to one communication — you also need to look at the information social media provides. It gives a wealth of data that can be used to drive strategic decisions. Absolutely, says Simon Vamn Wyck, who doesn’t want to know what’s being said about them?
And if dealing with this wealth of information and communications becomes overwhelming, don’t worry. We always find technologies to help deal with the burden. Glennys McLaughclin says a short-term solution to social media overload could be virtual call agents — computers that masquerade as human beings, answering questions and toeing the party line — in a very social media way, of course.