Over the past few years, social media has evolved from an extension of a company’s public relations efforts into a strategic business tool. Today, the savviest companies understand that social is as much about relationship management, product development, risk management and human resources as it is about marketing.
It is at once a powerful source of business intelligence, a tool for building authentic personal connections at massive scale, and a way to improve the measurement of marketing and advertising performance.
Here are 8 ways that leading companies are using social channels to boost the performance of their businesses.
Understand customers’ needs and desires
Social media chatter is an essential and unfiltered source of customer sentiment, experiences and needs. With accurate data and listening tools, businesses can get a clear view of what consumers are looking for, what they like and dislike, and all in their own language.
Gather competitor intelligence
Listening to social media isn’t just a good way to track customer discussions about your own brands and products – it can also give you valuable competitor insights.
Measure marketing performance
Social listening tools can yield interesting reports on the performance of your marketing and advertising campaigns. Businesses can access highly relevant quantitative data – are people talking about the campaign and how much of the conversation has a positive or negative tone – as well as qualitative insights – do the conversations show that people are taking the right message from your adverts?
Early warning system for looming corporate crises
Active social listening can give you advance warning of potential crisis situations such as a defective product that slipped through your quality control processes, a negative rumour that might affect your share price, or high volumes of calls impacting your contact centre’s service levels. You can use this information to rally your teams (whether it’s customer service, corporate communications and legal) and draw up a response plan before the storm arrives.
Build rapport with potential customers
Social media can provide a great platform for building rapport with potential clients. You can gently insert yourself into conversations where you can offer helpful advice and become part of general industry discussions to start building new relationships with people who might be interested in your brand or product.
Track public perception around sensitive business issues
Today’s customers value authenticity, transparency and a social conscience. Through social media, you can learn about how they perceive your brand, especially when it comes to issues such as environmental sustainability and corporate social investment.
Enhance customer retention
Social media is arguably even more important for customer retention than it is for customer acquisition. When someone follows your brand on Twitter or Facebook, they’re invested and interested in you, and quite possibly already a customer. Used well, this is an opportunity to add value to their lives through meaningful content and conversation. These sorts of links can help promote customer loyalty.
Don’t underestimate how valuable social media can be to your human resources department. It can be a great help in sourcing new candidates for jobs, give insights into how candidates view your business, and provide a source of intelligence about people you’re thinking of hiring.
Social media today is a lot more than just a post on a fan page. Today’s technologies enable you to listen, monitor and manage social conversations in a way that drives better performance throughout your business.