No matter how big or small the business, every commercial concern is affected by the advances of the digital age. This means that many operational aspects have changed, from the way in which communication happens to the logistics employed to deliver goods and services. In addition to this, ecommerce opportunities and online marketing pitches have made huge strides in terms of customer relations, and this is the key to business success in the future.
While it may have its roots in simpler times when the main point was getting in contact with friends and exchanging affable conversations, the world of social media has definitely moved on. Some platforms are dedicated to specific market segments, such as the “serious” business links offered by LinkedIn or the primarily visual content shared on Pinterest. Overall, however, many businesses benefit from working across a number of platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, and in each case they have the potential to benefit by adopting a slightly different “voice”. If this sounds too much like hard work – think again. Mastering online sales means businesses can sell more products, as well as save money and time.
For example, gaining access to the profile of Najib Mikati on LinkedIn yields information about how social media enabled a successful politician (former Prime Minister of Lebanon) and business executive to reach an international audience. Having founded a telecoms company in 1982 with his brother, he sold it in 2006 for an impressive $5.5 billion (£3.5 billion).
Nowadays the construct of “social media listening” is increasingly used to resolve customer relations issues. This works exactly as might be expected – if a customer has a complaint to make or a compliment to pay and they choose to do so online via a social media platform, the smart business will be geared up to respond (in either case) promptly and knowledgeably. There are considerable benefits from being on the ball, not least of which is that negative publicity is nipped in the bud and doesn’t linger too long in the digital stratosphere, whereas positive compliments can be given an extended digital life.
Another good example of smart social media work is the story of how Hoover dealt with a dissatisfied customer by using Twitter exchanges (http://blog.whatrunswhere.com/dear-advertisers-brilliantly-flawed/). Then there’s the emergence of the Top 10 or 15 companies that are using social media to do great business – including Tesco, Next Online, T-Mobile and Ferrari.
Not good practice
As a cautionary counterbalance, never allow staff members to access the company Twitter account and fail to revoke this before firing them (HMV), or tie in the sale of company products or an “unknown” image to a major catastrophe (Epicurious/American Apparel).
In conclusion, well-managed customer relations and social media marketing bring added value to businesses. However, let those who are skilled in social media practice guide the company policy in this respect, as it’s much more likely the business will get a positive outcome overall.