I’m going to beat this drum. Again. Social media is a communication tool, like a cell phone. If you view it purely as a marketing tool, you are missing all the many ways it can cut costs and make your customers happy, who then want to make sure you both grow and never go out of business.
I like seeing patterns. I often see the pattern that big companies are really struggling with this stuff. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that social media is well, a communication tool. In a small company, it’s easy to wrangle down the number of blogs, Twitter accounts, etc and overall strategy to be more cohesive, especially if you started your company after they came out. In a large company where the customer care team doesn’t know the marketing team from a hole in the ground, this is much more difficult. They both want to use the tools to solve problems, and they do. What they may or may not realize is that to the end user of these accounts, they aren’t divisions. They are just a product or service they use.
It’s like having a phone system where there is no operator. There is no prompt getting you to the right division. If you’ve ever been on the phone with a company where the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, this is infuriating. It’s not the hands’ fault. The brain isn’t connecting them to each other.
I believe companies must make every effort to assess where they stand with their customers and how they can better leverage social media to improve this standing BEFORE dumping money into big social media efforts. What do customers like about us? What don’t they like? What causes them to come and how can we improve to get them to stay? It’s one thing to do spin things that get people talking about your spin. It’s another thing entirely to pinpoint what you need to say or do to get them to say, “Holy crap, those guys are awesome and more importantly, they make me awesome.” Maybe I’ve seen too many superhero flicks, but I’d choose the latter any day.
What do you think, all? How can big companies wrangle down their multiple divisions to not just generate buzz, but to actually make their customers better?