Change is Necessary
Social media has become mainstream for consumers, which means that it should have become mainstream for marketers. Many marketers have embraced social media while others are taking steps to implementing it into their marketing plans and corporate culture, and still, the remainder feel that social media isn’t for them.
The fact is that consumer culture has shifted, and a new marketing landscape has presented itself leading to an opportunity to transform on several business fronts, including customer service, public relations, corporate communications and customer engagement.
...But What Kind of Change?
Social media has altered consumer behavior in terms of how they share their thoughts, experiences, opinions and ideas, but businesses should be thinking about how social media can change their behaviors for the better:
- Market Research. Use social media research to listen to customers in certain markets. What makes them different? How can you talk to them differently than your customers elsewhere?
- Product Development. Your customers’ opinions of your products are even more important than yours, so use social media to gather their thoughts. Who are the brand advocates you can seed the product to early? How can you take their thoughts and critiques into account for development?
- Communicate. Social media has lowered the barriers of communication between customers and businesses, which should be embraced! How are you interacting with consumers online? Where are your customers participating, and how can you become a part of the conversation or at least listen to it?
- Embrace Influencers (the online ones). The individuals who influence your customers are no longer limited to traditional media personalities. They’re everyday mothers, hobbyists, experts and others that have taken it upon themselves to publish their views online and gained a following of “fans” in the process. How can you connect with those who influence your customers?
- Be flexible. Social media opens the opportunity for customers to participate with your brand. Embrace them and listen to them, while being ready for the unexpected. The channels available for consumers to find information have broadened, and traditional crisis communication plans just won’t cut it. There should be a plan for communicating to consumers in the event of a crisis, and it will be much easier to become a part of the conversation in the time of need if you’re already there in the first place.
Only the Beginning
Don’t stop at the above list! The cool thing about social media is that it is always changing, which means businesses should to. You don’t have to be the next Zappos. You may not even have the internal resources to do so, but the power to implement change is always there. Take baby steps and be ready for change along the way. Adding social media to your marketing strategy and corporate culture can only lead to good things. There will be rough spots, but those growing pains lead to change that will keep your business ready for the future.