Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Think Social Media is a Quick and Easy Way to create a Relationship? Think again...

Whilst social media is arguably one of the best ways of achieving a connection with the customer, it requires a significant investment of both time and effort on the part of the organisation. As the number of new social platforms increases almost daily, it is becoming ever more difficult to identify those facilities which add potential value for your organisation; a point raised by Tara Joyce in a recent discussion with Danny Brown. The increase in the number of platforms poses a proportionately increased threat to the organisation; for whilst the social media affords an unparalleled connection with the customer, you cannot benefit from a conversation unless you are aware of it.

This is a problem I see no short term solution to. Although much recent discussion has held the economy accountable for dips in Venture Capitalist spending, the number of startups appearing almost daily seems unaffected. I anticipate that the number of new social media tools available to the consumer is likely to continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Clearly, the importance of proactively understanding one's customers has never been higher. The organisation must ensure that trends amongst consumers are montored, and that an appropriate presence in the social media is created accordingly. Although there may be platforms that are too small to warrant any significant presence, it is imperative that the organisation is at least aware of any relevant information contained therein. Monitoring of the online environment is clearly a requirement. Reputation aggregators and proprietary technologies should be examined to ensure that online chatter with regards to the organisation is recognised and acted upon accordingly.

The issue of ever increasing social media platforms is likely to remain a topic of discussion for some time. One thing is clear; in order to maintain a position of strength, organisations must remain knowledgeable about their customers and the spheres in which they operate, gauging the value of applications as and when the need arises. Although it is arguable that the specific technology is of lesser importance than the content of the conversation, this argument holds little weight when the customer is condemning or condoning your organisation within an electronic community in which you have limited or zero presence. Overall, the importance of monitoring brand perceptions online cannot be ignored.

In any case, the importance of the relationship remains.

What are your thoughts? How does your organisation decide which social platforms to create a presence in? As always, thoughts and comments are gratefully received.

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