A recent Burson Marsteller Social Media Check Up reassuringly trumpeted that big corporations (Fortune Global 100 in their case) have truly embraced social media. Consider:
All very impressive. But, are we for the most part missing the point about social media by adding it to the already long list of one-way communication and PR channels that we use to direct messages to our customers?
Social media is about facilitating peers talking to each other, sharing ideas, content, and creativity. Simply recycling marketing content onto social channels is a bit like those Lycra-clad drinks promoters that interrupt your conversation with a friend in a bar. They may be attractive, but a disruption none the less and it's not going to end in a relationship.
We have an amazing opportunity with social media to engage customers and prospects differently. To give them a voice and to build a more sustained dialogue based on customers choosing what, where, and how they want to participate.
Building long-term engagement is important; this can only be done by offering choice and control and constantly building trust.
Burson Marsteller suggests that every corporate Facebook page gets an average of 152,646 "likes." It could be argued that in today's transient world clicking on "like" is a pretty non-committal action and from that simple starting point a whole relationship needs to be constructed. One that keeps the customer engaged and moves the relationship forward, deeper, and more profitable.
The nature of any digital tool or platform is that it allows us to measure almost everything customers do. Social content typically has a pretty short half life, as it slides off the timeline, but that is not a excuse for not measuring. Measurement lets us monitor and improve performance and continue to target and serve better content. This leads to greater relevancy, greater engagement, longer term relationships, and true customer loyalty.
There are those that have daringly taken the whole peer-to-peer social thing perhaps a little too far. Consider airlines: having been slow into the social space, some are pushing the envelope. KLM's Meet and Seat and another company called Satisfly are schemes that allow you to search fellow passenger profiles, once they have registered, for that ideal seat mate for your 12-hour intercontinental flight, and then book into the seat next to them. A truly terrifying example of where match-making meets cyber-stalking. Mercifully, there are other airlines offering to sell you that empty seat next you, ensuring that it stays empty.
So how might we build longer lasting relationships across the social spectrum - some pointers:
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Stephen Hay is Asia Pacific regional director for ICLP, the award-winning global loyalty and customer relationship management (CRM) agency. Stephen came into loyalty at Cathay Pacific when e-mail was still something that people in research labs used to send to each other and direct mail was still king.
ICLP works with some of the world's leading customer-focused brands, including Cathay Pacific, Mandarin Oriental, and Juniper Networks; looking to bring brands and customers closer together into a more mutually beneficial and more profitable relationship. Stephen takes a customer point of view on almost everything, not always universally popular, but proven time and again to be the basis for a sustainable, profitable, long-term relationship.
December 12, 2013
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