As budgets are drying up entrepreneurs are turning, yet again, to technology, social media comes to the rescue. Words such as YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn would have been considered typos not too recently have become part of our corporate success dictionary. Social media offers companies inexpensive ways to improve their customer service, ramp up their customer service, learn more about their market, reduce their expenses, and more.
Improve your customer service
Having a conversation with your customers through social media is a new business skill. In an effort to improve its public image, Dell has made a conscious effort to connect with its customers through various social media channels such as blogs, forums, and various third-party websites. Dell had to appreciate that customers talked about their products online, and the company was forced to become part of the conversation. With a little help from their social media friend Dell managed to make improvements to its Latitude laptop. Note: It was a Dell laptop that exploded into flames at a conference in Japan.
Social media is the great equalizer as the story of Jeff Jarvis, an unhappy Dell customer, shows. Jarvis took on this giant of a company using his own blog. He managed to create awareness about customer concerns that had reached an international audience. Initially, Dell had ignored the blog voicing Jarvis’ concerns until his blog became the outlet for public conversation of customer issues. His blog, the BuzzMachine, has become the focus of Dell’s mistakes, poor customer service and flawed products.
The blogosphere doesn’t create the problems it simply brings them to light, and it makes it possible for business to address the issues at hand. Now, the CEOs of companies don’t have to take customer service managers word for it, they can learn about customer issues directly from the source. Some might argue that somehow this is a bad thing. On the contrary, with social media, companies and consumers can realize problems that need to be addressed. Customer engagement through social media could only hurt a company in the long run that is not interested in positive change. Instead of creating a problem social media brings a new level of efficiency to the corporate world.
Do more research
Market research is no longer a luxury only large companies can afford. Social media is the market research alternative for small and mid-size businesses that don’t have money to burn. Especially in a recession, market research is an essential part of a winning corporate strategy. Using social media, companies can carry out their own market research, and the best part is that it’s free.
Search for the topic of your choice on StumbleUpon and learn what people say. One of the greatest aspects of StumbleUpon is that marketers can easily find websites related to their market that they would never find on their own. Businesses can use this website to get instant feedback. The community is continually engaged providing constant opinion that result in a better product. A company might be developing new packaging for a product and get instant criticism from the online community. Something that might have taken weeks and months using traditional methods can be done in a matter of days or even hours. This method is not only fast, but it is also free.
LinkedIn, the social media outlet for grownups, is a rich and dynamic database, which can be searched, mined, and yield insightful and useful information to you and your business. Through its “Answers” feature LinkedIn serves as a valuable market research tool because it enables users to ask questions on virtually any topic, and expect to get answers quickly from the community. Executives can ask questions about products, services, trends, or any topic that might be useful to gain a better insight into their market. You can use the search feature to find people by industry, job title, company, or geographical location. The search results include vital corporate information.
Twitter, a micro blogging service, with its millions of users, offers a world of market intelligence for your business. Twitter is the killer app for marketers that are dying to become the fly on the wall as they are given the opportunity to listen in on public conversations about their market, social issues, products, services, or industry trends. Twitter provides near-real time intelligence on virtually any market.
Should StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media applications going to be your only source of market research? Of course not, but social media offers an abundance of honest conversation from which business can gather a wide range of vital information.