As corporations sort out their social media strategies, its important to separate hype from reality, to enable enterprises to conduct real-business, impacting the bottom line.
It's key to realize that social media is a channel - Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, YouTube, blogs, forums, are all channels - additional ways to reach your audience. Just as a call center allows you to have one-on-one conversations with your audience, so does social media. EXCEPT; except, these channels present new opportunities & new challenges. As you have a two-way, interactive conversation with a particular person who tweeted, this conversation is public & viral instantly. How you behave with this one person impacts the perceptions of millions of others immediately.
Have you ever had call center associates hang up on you, because your problem was going to take them longer to resolve than their quota time. Well, when you hang up on someone on Twitter or on Facebook, you've hung up on millions of others. Social Media allows your audience to very easily commune for you or against you. Herein lies both the opportunity & the challenge.
Enterprises such as Dell & Citi are amassing large teams of people, whose job is at the root, two-fold: listening & talking. Whether they listen to new product ideas, listen to & resolve customer complaints, they listen to & track the sentiment towards their brand & it's products & services - helping mitigate & pre-empt large-scale problems.
When talking, enterprises try to provide useful information in interesting ways - product updates, information about sales, coupons, job openings, events.
So, don't get caught up in the hype. Use these channels to listen to & talk to your audience. Build your strategies to utilize these free platforms to communicate as you have; but remember when you hang up on one person, you are hanging up on millions instantly.
Alpa Agarwal is Director, Product Marketing at eBay Inc. In her role she works with the engineering team to release new features to enhance the shopping user experience on eBay.com. Prior to eBay, Alpa worked with the engineering team at Microsoft's MSN.com to release new social & community features, working with partners such as Facebook.
Alpa has also held marketing communications roles in Microsoft's developer division working with startups.
Prior to that, Alpa led a global team at Microsoft to identify market trends. She regularly advised Microsoft’s senior leadership team, including Bill Gates, resulting in new acquisitions, technology investments and strategic corporate shifts.
Prior to joining Microsoft, Alpa founded MarketingCafe.com, an online community for marketers. She also worked at Sprint where she built a successful new product pipeline.
Alpa has taught in various Executive MBA programs, authored numerous articles and been quoted in international business journals. She has an MBA from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Alpa is based in Silicon Valley and can be reached at Alpa@AlpaAgarwal.com.