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Social media 'can engage customers'


The new interactive economy means that businesses that fail to engage with their customers across a number of digital and social platforms will be left behind by their rivals, an expert has suggested.

Writing in the Guardian, Bluewolf chief marketing officer Corinne Sklar argued that social media has become more than an optional extra, and is now a necessity for firms that want to push their products to a large group of people.

While some marketing professionals may roll their eyes and suffer from a pang of deja vu at the reiteration of social media's central role in the industry, Ms Sklar emphasised that too many companies are simply taking a box-ticking approach to what she sees as a whole new paradigm for consumer-business relations.

Simply launching a Twitter feed or a LinkedIn group is not the way to connect with customers and create a strong, lasting brand identity - a wholesale re-imagining of the marketing process is needed if firms are to take advantage of the potential offered by social media platforms.

"Good social adoption starts with a focus on people, not the technology. It is important to get your employees engaged because customer engagement is a shared responsibility across the enterprise," advised Ms Sklar.

This means changing the whole attitude of a firm - for instance, encouraging staff members to engage with disgruntled customers on social media channels, rather than forcing people to use outdated and clumsy complaints processes.

"A free flow of information allows the most customer-obsessed companies to understand not only their own customers, but also their customers' customers - creating differentiation and a competitive advantage," the marketing officer concluded.

However, social media can also bring problems to a business - the example of FemFresh, which saw its Facebook page overrun by angry commenters last year, should be seen as a salutary warning to any companies launching a new brand presence.

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