Social media can be effective as a marketing tool, but keep in mind that there are also very productive ways to utilize social media for customer service, product development, sales, purchasing, and recruiting. By thinking of social media holistically, you’ll see how it can permeate every aspect of your company’s work.
Your customer service team is focused on responding to customer issues and resolving them quickly and cost effectively. Today, customers may not only complain directly, they may also complain publicly on Twitter or other sites, so that their frustrations can reach thousands of other people who follow then. It’s important for your customer service team to monitor your company’s brand terms on social media sites and then interact directly with these people in or to resolve the issues. One benefit of this approach is that their followers will see how you respond and may feel better about your product or brand.
Product development teams can monitor the same stream of content for insight into product usage, issues, or frustrations that may lead to new features, products, or services. They can also monitor what your competitors or their customers are talking about, and gain insight into their future plans. Social media can also be a great resource for getting feedback from the marketplace on potential new product features or service changes.
Sales can effectively use social media in many ways. When prospecting, they can use tools like LinkedIn to identify potential customers, connect with them through their network, and then reach out to them. They can also learn more about their prospects’ professional background and personal interests, which may make it easier for them to build a relationship and turn the prospect into a customer. By listening to their social media comments and posts, they will be able to gain a better understanding of their needs and wants. However, be prudent with your sales-oriented social media usage. If people feel that you are stalking them or they are being “spammed” because you’ve found them on social media, you can create a very negative backlash. People don’t want to feel that their privacy is being violated or that they are being manipulated.
Your purchasing team can use social media to find reviews and feedback before making important selections for products and services. Once they find relevant comments, they can also find other users and get personal feedback. In the past, vendors would provide a list of vetted references that were all positive. Now your purchasing team can go beyond this sanitized list to find other customers and get the real story. This puts a lot of pressure on the customer service team of any company to manage their digital reputation to make sure that there are no lingering, unanswered negative comments, reviews or ratings.
Social media sites can also be used by your recruiting team when they are looking for candidates. Just as the sales team can find potential customers on LinkedIn through targeted searching, the recruiting team can do the same. They can identify potential candidates and then approach them by phone or email to see if they are interested in exploring opportunities with your company. Once you find people, you can learn more about their through their social media postings. Recruiters will want to see it the candidates have the kind of reputation that will make them a good employee or if there are any red flags that might need to be discussed during an interview. Candidates should make sure that they understand their privacy settings on sites like Facebook, so that they only share images and information that they want to share with the public – including potential employers.
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