Social Media, often a tool that is started as entertainment for technologically minded people ends up being commercialized. When social media grew through the late twenty eight century, it was primarily used to establish digital relationships among online communities in a new medium.
However it is increasingly becoming clear that social media is a particularly powerful tool in the struggle to obtain relevant business intelligence as well as to communicate with existing customers and potential customers. This article touches on some of the new opportunities for businesses to interact with users of social media as well as understanding what they are saying about the markets.
A cryptic comment or a customer complaint can go viral within minutes. We have heard of those employees who sent unfortunate emails that became global. Other employees used FaceBook to say uncomplimentary things about their colleagues or employers and ending up losing their jobs. Previously these issues could be contained within the normal customer service channels. These days that is not always possible.
Users of social media and bloggers can devastate a customer by merely highlighting problems that occur. A case in point is that of a well known supermarket where one of the employees was caught on camera misusing some of the products intended for consumption by the customers. Apart from the normal disciplinary processes, the supermarket had to launch a concerted social media campaign to try and rebuild their reputation. Even people who did not use social media ended up becoming aware of the issue through the print media that picked up the story.
It is no longer acceptable for senior managers to ignore social media as a means of obtaining business intelligence. The first stage is to make sure that there is a social media presence for the company on most of the major social media networks.
This can be achieved via the use external agency staff or in-house employees who monitor what is happening to the brand. They will note perceptions and gather management information that should feedback into the business intelligence structures.
Once a presence has been established the company can do one of two things. First of all it can work to enhance its message and publicity through creating its own buzz on the net. This does not necessarily have to involve advertising.
Product reviews and invitations for customer feedback have been known to attract quite large followings. This enables the firm to access the online market and retain some control over its image and brand awareness. The second route is to look at the possibilities of countering any negative perceptions as well as reacting to negative feedback through corrective management action.
Businesses can also use social media to enhance user experiences by acting on customer feedback and offering alternative experiences. One example is that of the airline reviews through which previous customers can place comments about their travels and how they were treated. Good business intelligence should use this opportunity to tell their side of the story as well. If the problems that have been identified and improvements are being made, then it is up to business intelligence champions to publicize this within the social media world.