Social Media as the Engine of Engagement

Welcome to the future. As a marketeer, you no longer drive your company or brand’s messaging – your customers do.

Social media platforms enable all of your stakeholders to interact with your company in what is now dubbed the “interactive economy”. Consumers in the modern age are empowered to expect what they want from companies – when they want it. As protagonists in the marketing landscape, our emphasis has changed from acquiring large databases of contacts to building deeper, more intimate relationships with them.
CMOs are now tasked with engaging, listening and responding to their customers but most companies are missing a trick. In order to achieve this, customer satisfaction based models must be applied from top to bottom. Most customers couldn’t care less about our internal functions, these need to be invisible. Totally. Invisible. Processes should be designed in order to wholly accommodate customers and all of their needs as opposed to those of a role or function within the organisation. Customer related information should flow freely through divisions and up and down any hierarchy. Employees at all levels should be free and encouraged to harness this data to build stronger relationships with and solve any problems of the customer. Social media channels act as a powerful means of engagement and mustn’t be underestimated in your brand’s communications strategy.
Start with the same assertion I made in the previous paragraph: engaging and interacting with customers is a responsibility shared at every level of the firm. All employees, irrespective of their department, should feel empowered to identify and act upon any and all opportunities to engage with customers. What this boils down to in respect to your social media approach is to focus on people rather than the technology.
Find people within your organization to act as ambassadors on social media platforms they are already familiar with from their personal lives. Encourage employees to participate and engage on your social channels by applying to the process game mechanics and design techniques. This allows you to harness their natural impulse and desire for status and achievement, in doing so promoting social behaviour internally. All the while, remember that technology alone will never drive relationships without people acting upon it.
Here’s an interesting fact and rather apt example of how to completely mess up your customer relationships over social: 58% of negative customer experiences never get replied to over Twitter. This doesn’t only result in a loss in your short term revenues, more worrying still is the effect it has on your brand equity over the long run. My advice here: nurture your prospects as individuals rather than faceless transactions. Remember that consumers today are better informed and have significantly more choice than in any other time in history. If you don’t meet their expectations, they’ll simply move on. The opposite is true for engaged customers who reward consistent service with more spending and greater advocacy on across all channels.