New channels of communications – are here!
My professional world is probably described as Business2Business2Customer (B2B2C) consulting. I work with organizations in designing, improving, replacing or expanding their B2C relationships (sure there are also B2Bs there too). In my world, everyone is a customer but the B2B relationships are defined a bit differently.
Recently, the subject of Social Media has become one of the hottest subjects in my discussions with my clients. It almost reminds me of the dot com days in the late 90s when everyone needed to get on board for fear of missing the ship. Now, many but not all of my clients are already dabbling or are quite advanced in their Social Media endeavors and others wait wondering how to “get it right”. Well, I tell them to not wait and try to perfect the solution but to get there now! Their customers are there, they are commenting, looking for assistance, giving assistance to each other and at times flaming you.
Tools are there to help manage the flow and filter through the wash to find those raisins which need or require attention. But applying the right amount of brain power to find those is still not perfect. Till I ran across the Watson story from last week and this blogpost from No Jitter.
Dang it Watson! I hit the button too late.
This will be a very active area in the next 12 to 18 months as corporations are all clamoring at engaging their customers at the right time. But until a Watson is available to everyone we just need to get busy and get to work.
Many have a tough time just peaking past the hype. The stories of how those sites will just steal your identity. How big brother is just watching all this. This is no reason to not be out there and at listening to your customers or those who are talking about you. Let engaging in conversation be another phase in your Social Media strategy.
Do you have a Social Media Strategy? Do you think you need one?
This is not rocket science
So, how to get past all the hype around social media and the networking going on and get these new communication forms into your business? This is the task I have at hand almost every week. Once you can identify the channel, be it Twitter, Facebook or others specific to your industry, you can use many of the tools already on the market (many free to start) and begin filtering out those raisins. Here is a blog post by Paul Dunay which reviews some of the currently available methods.
But once you have the raisins in a row, there are a few questions which come up:
- How do you action on them?
- Who should reply?
- When should you reply?
- Is this a call center’s task or should it remain in Marketing/Sales?
These are important questions which need to be addressed and roles clearly outlined. If your company has a contact center of sorts, my first question is; do they handle email today? Is it part of an intelligent workflow? Is there some kind of distribution system to handle bursts of traffic?
Twittering with your friends is different than with your customers
Hopefully there are a few yes’s in the bundle. If you have email in some fashion of automation then bringing Social Media contacts/mentions into the scheme is actually pretty easy. There are a few players out there making this possible (yes, including my current employer) but it is important that the tool does not just fix the Social Media challenge. There are many new rules which need to be taught to those handling this and norms as well.
So, what rules are there for companies to follow when engaging with their followers/friends/customers in the social space? What new norms do we need?
Looking forward to the conversation.