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Business use of social media is rising exponentially, with more companies joining the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more by the day. However, while this may seem to be ‘marketing 101’ to most of us, a handful of big brands such as B&Q and Debenhams seem to be taking a rather different view of this brilliant marketing medium.
Darren Farnden, Head of Marketing
Somewhat ironically, when asked about Debenhams’ reasoning for slighting the tracking of social media performance, its ‘Customer Strategy and Insight Analyst’ Caroline Pollard retorted: “We haven't really looked into social media tracking as we're not sure what you get out of it and what it can be built on. Our board wants numbers, figures and concrete data, and there is not a lot of buy-in to get data on what customers feel about the company.” This seems an incredibly backwards approach in this modern age. How can you claim to not need something you don’t even know about?
It would appear part of the reason behind this blasé attitude stems from many brands believing that social media is full of negativity for brands. Debenhams in particular believes “it may contain some useful elements as long as there is a balance of positive and negative comments”.
As modern technology has advanced and social media sites have arisen, companies have been given much greater ability to delve deeper into what satisfies and dissatisfies their customers. The emergence of a plethora of marketing software providers has created an ever-growing number of ways to quantify, qualify and summarise what’s happening in the ebb and flow of social media and pull out crucial information about a company. If, like some of these big brands, you don’t listen to customers’ direct and indirect feedback through social media, you are missing out on incredibly valuable information.
Why is social media so important now?
Well the numbers can’t be ignored for a start! According to Pew Internet’s study… “As of September 2013, 73% of online adults use social networking sites”, with a reported 71% on Facebook, 22% on LinkedIn and 18% on Twitter. To add further perspective, in 2013 Twitter claimed to have over 15 million users in the UK alone and Facebook had over 24 million. If that isn’t enough to attract involvement then there is something deeply wrong, especially as these numbers continue to grow.
Social media isn’t about just listening to your customer base, blindly twisting your business to fit the multitude of directions they will try to pull you in. It gives you a chance to delve into the patterns of your customers’ and target audiences’ behaviour through software tools to see if you’re meeting the needs of the many and where you could make tweaks.
There will always be nay-sayers anywhere you go but this is the perfect opportunity to turn them into your most loyal customers and, by speaking directly to them, they will realise you are listening and feel incredibly valued by your attentiveness.
How do you use social media? Are you proactive in your engagement with existing and potential customers? Do you have little or no idea of what views they’re sharing about your service or are you gleaning valuable knowledge of your customer satisfaction rate by measuring social media interaction? While social media is a hugely valuable platform for sharing ideas and opinions with customers and hearing what they think of you, are you using the right platforms? We wrote about this in our recent eBook ‘Are you using useless marketing tools?’
Nonetheless, the world is becoming more connected by the day, with people befriending, following and passing on each other’s comments on a global scale, making social media a truly exciting platform. Never before have people been so easily connected while apart. Adopting this, while it can take some effort to start into motion the benefits completely outweigh any downsides when it comes to such an interactive and attractive prospect.
Have your say!
Are you actively using social media for your business? Do you think it’s providing you with valuable insight into what your customers want? Or do you think it is too easy a place for them to get in touch to complain? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.
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