Tag Archives: social media trends

5 Businesses That Will Live (or Die) by Social Media

Courtesy of  Christopher Elliott, BNET

If you work in the retail business, you probably already know how important social media is to your company. But a new survey suggests several other industries are at a tipping point between interacting with their customers online and offline.

The study, conducted by the customer experience analytics company ClickFox, found five industry groups in which people have sought customer service in high numbers, which I define as more than 30 percent.

ClickFox concludes that social media such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter – once unheard of as a customer service channel – has now proven to be both an effective and cost-effective alterative to traditional customer service channels.

But as I review these numbers, I see a more ominous sign. If you’re in one of these industries, it means social media isn’t just a nice option for customers; it may, in many cases, be the first place clients turn when they want to contact you. In other words, you have to be there.

Here are the industries and their percentages, according to the survey.

1. Retail (45 percent)
Sure, the next time you buy a pair of jeans at Target, you expect the company to be listening to your feedback on Twitter (@Target) or its Facebook account.  Interestingly, the survey suggests customers of smaller companies in the retail sector are treated in a similar way. That, by default, many clients will go online and look for a social media solution.

2.  Telephone (35 percent)
There’s an obvious reason why people turn to social media for phone problems. When your line isn’t working, but you have a ready Internet connection, getting satisfaction is a lot easier by tweeting AT&T (@att). There’s also a less obvious reason: Phone companies are notorious for making you spend a long time on “hold” and sending your through elaborate phone-tree mazes before you can talk to a real person.

3.  Travel and hospitality (34 percent)
People normally think “airlines” when you mention travel, but the truth is, most Americans get to where they’re going by car. Of course, airlines get some of the lowest customer-service scores America, so passengers will try to reach them any which way. But this is more about hotels and restaurants – two key components of the hospitality industry. They’ve quietly made some progress in opening social media channels to their customers.

4. Cable (33 percent)
Next to airlines, cable is one of the lowest-rated industries, when it comes to customer service. So, again, customers are reaching out to Twitter accounts like @comcastcares and Time Warner Cable’s Facebook page for help. This seems more an act of desperation than convenience, if the numbers are to be believed.

5. Banks (31 percent)
Here’s another underperforming sector, thanks to the recent wave of defaults and ill-conceived mergers. But also, banks provide notoriously bad phone service, sending their customers through endless prompts, forcing them to verify their identities multiple times, and leaving them on “hold” for half an eternity. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to use the phone. Now they are getting their wish.

With the possible exception of retail and hospitality, it may not even be a question of living by social media, but dying by it. The social media channel is so attractive because it bypasses the phone, which for an increasing number of customers just doesn’t work anymore. Their next step may be to take their business elsewhere.

A few weeks ago, I asked if your business really needs a Twitter account. Here’s your answer. If you’re in the retail, phone, travel, cable or bank industry, you probably do.

Related:

Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate, syndicated columnist and curator of the On Your Side wiki. He’s the author of the upcoming book Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals, which critics have called it “eye-opening” and “inspiring.” You can follow Elliott on Twitter, Facebook or his personal blog, Elliott.org or email him directly.

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Are These Social Media Trends Part of Your Strategy?

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Courtesy of Social Media Today

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”– Erik Qualman.

So, how well do you do it? It’s important to keep tabs on emerging social media technologies to make sure you are investing in the right areas even if some areas are not relevant immediately.

Here are some trends for 2011 that will help keep your business ahead.

1. Online video. Everywhere.

Online video is not a new phenomenon; however, what’s new about this avenue is that it is increasingly everywhere. The bar has been set high for the level of consumer interaction and this must include valuable interactive video. Video engagement is continuously increasing and in October alone, 5.4 billion videos were viewed – 2 billion of which were on Facebook. Brands and consumers rely on video to provide information that is not present elsewhere in social media, making it a critical component in shaping people’s perception about companies and each other.

2. Mobile Marketing.

In 2010 infrastructure, technology and design finally intersected in the mobile world and for the first time smartphone sales overpowered the sales of desktops and laptops. Companies need an iphone application to keep up with their consumers and to be available when consumers need them. In 2010, iPhone and iPad applications were downloaded more than 7 billion times and that serves as a great indicator that consumers are willing to engage. In 2011, mobile users will interact with content, companies and the Web more on their phones and iPads than on their computers. From shopping on the go, to paperless transactions, to watching (and creating) videos – mobile media is instant, portable and personalized.

3. Location.

Although location falls into the mobile marketing avenue, it deserves its own mention. Advertisers are able to take advantage of mobile platforms that let them reach consumers at critical points (eg. moments just before they make an in-store purchase). Being able to reach a customer on the go or near the point of sale can be a very powerful mechanism for brands looking to connect with potential audience. Location will increase in popularity as people get more comfortable checking in to a business and when brands offer more enticing offers. Again, you must offer value to your consumers so that they feel comfortable enough to associate themselves with your brand through their social media profiles. This includes in depth analysis of market trends, monitoring behavior and coming up with creative ways in establishing that connection. This “mobile meets loyalty” approach enhances the social experiences, and inspires new audiences.

4. Deal Hunting

As consumer expectations rise, you must be able to offer them something different while still making a profit. Services like Groupon provide an instant ability to share deals. Expect this to continue over the next couple of years with copy cat services and the big players rolling in to more territories and rolling out better and more extensive deals. This yet again serves as an opportunity to both reward your most loyal customers as well as attract new clientele who may discover you through a daily deal. Expect to see special sales, tickets, and discounts as well as combinations of promotions with similar services (dinner and a movie anyone?). However, if you do decide to go down the deal hunting avenue, make sure you don’t over exhaust the consumer.

5. Monitoring conversations

The internet breaks barriers between brands and people, as well as people and people. It is a fact that 78% of consumers trust peer reviews and only 14% trust advertisements this is why it’s crucial to be involved in your community and have a good reputation. What are people saying about your brand? About 25% of search results for the top 20 brands linked to user generated content – the control you have over what people say saying is limited so it is up to you to nourish these relationships. The number one way to get people saying positive things is through over delivering on your product or service. However, you must also encourage the conversation through social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, industry publications and media. Monitor the conversation, join in on the conversation, help and show your customers that you care. In return, this will only increase loyalty.

The social media trends that arise are unlimited and we as people influence their success and failures. So while everyone is waiting for Twitter to monetize, Google to fail with another platform, or for an explanation of what augmented reality really does – we need to ask ourselves what enables our success, jeopardizes our performance and how we want to shape the years to come.

About Marina Arnaout

Marina Arnaout comes from a marketing communications background with expertise in variety of mediums ranging from TV to out-of-home advertising. Finding her niche in the digital realm, she is a frequent contributor to industry publications often covering social marketing and media trends. For more, follow Marina on Twitter @marinarn.