Can social media make your company more successful?
September 3, 2009
Altimeter Group announced an interesting fact in the last week, blogged by Charlene Li on their behalf, that their latest study shows that companies who engage more in social media perform better in the marketplace. I was drawn to this by a timely piece from Anthony Mayfield of iCrossing.
The Altimeter report finds that companies who engage and embrace social media tend to be the ones who are performing best at this moment in time. That’s great! It’s always good to be able to have cause and effect proof on company profits isn’t it?
It’s really good to look at the effect that social media may be having on performance on businesses. It gives a direct indicator of the reponse of consumers to brands that seek to engage and have a conversation with them rather than a one-way direct marketing approach.
However, where I think this falls short is in the analysis of what other activities these same brands are undertaking to ensure tighter connections with their customers and audience. If engaging in social media alone was the answer there would be much more successful major brands out there. It’s actually a question of learning to engage and communicate in the right way through whatever channel is most appropriate at that point of your customer journey. By default, a brand who has spent the time to really understand it’s customer journey and all the touchpoints along the way (no matter what channel, online and offline) is bound to benefit. Mapping out the numerous touchpoints you have with your customers and addressing each one in the most appropriate manner to optimise it and remove any pain points is the way to deal with this. That includes offline channels such as call centres and direct mail and online channels such as your website and social media.
Brands who really engage in social media are by default likely to be the same brands who really understand their customers so it’s really not at all surprising to see a correlation between social media engagement and performance. Saying that the performance boost is down to social media alone is however just not telling the whole story.
Don’t get me wrong, studies like this are important and will really help brands who haven’t yet stepped into the social media world find a reason and justification for doing so, but they really need to think cross-channel and ensure that they aren’t neglecting their whole customer base. I particularly like what Anthony calls ‘social business design’ in his post, maybe that’s a route to being really customer centric. Learning to communicate with your audience should be such a basic tenet of business but unfortunately most people just tend to broadcast in the hope that someone is listening. You’d think they’d have learnt by now?
Indeed, wouldn’t it be great if engaging in social media alone could propel your business to new heights? I think this is more about how well a company engages with it’s customers across any channel and the whole customer journey rather than just on social media.
Companies who really get being customer focused, who get the benefit of being open and honest with their audience and strive to be customer centric are most likely to also be engaged in social media. Just doing social media alone though won’t create the success the report hints at, although becoming ‘social centric’ is a good step on the way to becoming a listening, engaging, customer centric organisation. Perhaps social centric is the new customer centric?