Social Media—It’s Not Just Another Channel
by Rob Tarkoff
Social media collects and distributes knowledge faster and more widely than anything we’ve seen. It’s a testament to our deeply collaborative nature and shows us the enormous value that collaboration brings. Social media works the way it does because people are quick to contribute; we jump at opportunities to cultivate our talent and love sharing our knowledge and experiences. The internet makes it easy to publish. Social technologies make it easy to share. The resulting explosion of user-generated-content (UGC)—real, authentic voices of shared experience—has indelibly changed our economy.
Yet most companies today struggle with social media. Sixty-seven percent say they don’t have the time or resources to invest, 50% say they can’t measure success and 42% say they simply don’t have the competency. Many companies that have jumped in so far mostly just fold social in to existing business processes as a new channel—an important and influential new channel perhaps, but a channel nonetheless. They get a Twitter account and a Facebook page and start tracking channel successes like fans and followers. They cheer as the channel successes pile up, but eventually someone starts looking for the business success. Sadly, because they’ve adopted a channel-centric view of social media, very often no one can point to a single dollar saved or earned.
Smart brands today realize social media isn’t just another channel. It’s a new and hugely efficient collaboration machine—a mechanism for matching talent and knowledge with those who need it. They create online customer communities that give people with problems instant access to those with solutions. They create engaging social customer experiences that motivate and reward contribution. They develop knowledge bases where service questions and product solutions are owned, codified and easily accessed by anyone in need. And they save multi-millions per year in the process. When it comes to creating and distributing information customers need, smart brands prove every day that social technologies offer a novel opportunity to realize off-the-chart scale.
Using the power of the crowd, top social brands today grow their service and support teams exponentially, deepen their knowledge bases many-fold and speed up innovation by looking at thousands of ideas instead of several. They don’t just push impressions through existing social networks like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They build their own customer networks, turning the power of social into a perennial business asset that delivers returns year after year.
And those returns are staggering.
Since launching its customer community, Australian-based voice and broadband company, Telstra, has seen nearly half of customer queries resolved in the first instance. UK-based mobile service operator giffgaff has no call center at all. Their customer community answers 100% of inquiries in an average of 90 seconds. What’s more, giffgaff enjoys one of the highest Net Promoter Scores on record, right up there with the likes of Google and Apple.
With all the efficiencies and advantages it offers, driving meaningful results through social media is fast becoming the new normal. We’re not fully there quite yet, but there is an enormous opportunity for differentiation in a crowded landscape. While the channel-centric competition is still counting fans and followers, smart brands like Telstra, HP and giffgaff are using social to change the way they organize work, apply talent, conduct research and make and market their products. These trailblazers show us every day that when we stop approaching social as just another channel and start seeing its potential to transform our operations, our customer relationships — our entire business — we unlock its full potential.
This post is part of a series co-produced by The Huffington Post and Blogworld, in conjunction with the latter's NMX BusinessNext Social 2013. That event will feature some of the world’s leading social-business luminaries and influencers, each of whom will be speaking at the event to provide an up-close look at how the world’s most successful businesses harness the power of social.
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Hi Spil - Yes, our listening products + community products come together in the Customer Intelligence Center. Our natural language processor works in two ways. First we'll detect sentiment for posts that appear in your community (along with the other social channels) and then we'll pull out the "quotes" that express the most attitude or emotion. Thanks for checking out our products! Erin
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I'm influenced by all kinds of things. An example is the Livescribe pen. I saw our own Michael Puhala using it and asked him about it. He was so excited about his pen that he gave me an immediate live demo and talked about all the ways it helped him be more productive.
After he left my desk, here's what happened:
I did a little research online
I thought about it for a few days
On a trip home to Chicago, I mentioned it to my family (my step-dad said, definitively, "GET IT!")
On a whim, we ran into a Best Buy on the way to the airport and I bought it with pads of the special paper you need
I ripped it open, tried it, liked it
While I was thinking about it, I went onto Amazon to buy more supplies
Here's the weird thing - another huge "swing and miss" for brands. Now, online, I saw display ad after display ad about the Livescribe pen. Now that I'd bought the thing, these ads were annoying, particularity when they advertised that the pen was now on sale. I could click on the ad to turn it off (there's some setting feature) but I could not click anywhere to report that I'd actually bought the pen. Forgive me for drinking the Lithium kool-aid, but even more powerful would be an option for me to say that I bought the pen AND invited me to learn how others LIKE ME had been productive and creative using it. Influence was clearly woven in at a few touch points but the brand STILL missed an opportunity to engage with me in a meaningful way.
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