“SME’s are nimble enough to lead the way in social media; there’s no excuses not to start.”
This is the key message resonating from The Internet Show in Singapore which is running five different conferences based on the ‘world of the web’ this week. I am attending and speaking at ‘The Social Media World’ conference and engaging with Asian heads of marketing and digital at companies such as Dell, LinkedIn, Readers Digest, ESPN Star Sports, HTC, EuroRSCG, Intel and 3M, among others.
We are hearing what works in social media and how to measure effort. One message is loud and clear – SMEs are the winners with social media. Why? Big companies are still slow to reduce the layers of red tape and policy sign-off before responding to customer social media comments, largely due to the threat of shareholder outrage or even being fired. In contrast, SMEs can respond quickly and nimbly as comments occur, inspiring a more intimate customer relationship and greater competitive edge.
Energy company BP was again cited as a case study in social media failure after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill a few years ago. While senior management went through a lengthy approval process to sign-off reactive press statements, social media sites were dominated by consumers and greenies outraged by the lack of initiative taken by BP. The negative sentiment affected brand reputation, share price and customer loyalty.
Fight it at your own peril; we are now living in a digital world. Almost without exception, everyone in the audience here has an iPad and smartphone on their lap, with attention split between presenters and technology. The audience is judging the speakers on live Twitter streams as we speak — it’s all about engagement, sharing and interactive feedback.
In terms of tips from speakers, themes are consistent. It is a case of WHEN you start using social media, not IF. And when you do start, it’s OK to start small, although the speakers are urging us to “do something awesome”. The mantra is still very much audit, listen, monitor and engage. Looking at case studies gives us the most valuable insights. Social media allows us to “max the marketing medium”’.
The top tips:
1. Just get started on social media
2. Learn from others and look at case studies
3. Ensure social media is part of your overall marketing strategy and not something separate — it should support what you are doing in marketing
4. Be ready for the implication and reactions — social media allows you to interact with your customers instantly so be prepared to respond. They may create the content for you
5. Use good content to market your brand, such as stories, customer case studies, videos, service and product tips, white papers, facts and figures. Send it out by Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as place it on your website
6. Track and listen to the influencers, experts and bloggers who can l others to take note of your service or product, watch their hashtags and follow the trends
7. The key is to measure your social media efforts by what matters to you and what YOU find important
8. Measurement is varied and could be how many enquiries are answered and successfully closed in first contact or the increase in people engaging with you, watching and listening
The conference is also giving air time to Social CRM — the name given to the part of business that helps you make sense of and then act on the information you collect from social customer interactions. Traditionally, this would have been the ‘over the counter conversation’ or ‘the traditional phone conversation’. Now it includes all conversations taking place on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social CRM can involve and assist four areas of your business:
• Service and support.How much feedback and product innovation tips you are getting from each social media channel? Eg from your Twitter feed
• Sales.How many leads are you getting from social media channels? Eg from LinkedIn
• Brand reputation. What do others think of your company and services, social media gives you unique ways of listening
• Product innovation.Gone are the days we waited for large annual customer conferences to get feedback from users, with social media, we can get feedback every day
There are lots of case studies to give direction on how to use social media in your business. Search for Dell, Kinaxis, Blentec, Old Spice, Susan Boyle and the Taj Hotel group as examples. It’s time to get started according to The Internet Show, Singapore. Good luck.