Social Media Is a Conversation. Or Is It?

Social Media Is a Conversation. Or Is It?

City, telephone room
Photo: City, telephone room by The Library of Virginia, on Flickr

I would like to argue that you do not need to have conversations with people on social media to provide your customers value. It's going to be a little long winded, but I'll get there.

Everyone tells you you have to be on social media. After all, it IS 2014! OK, so you try to take inventory of what you think you can produce and sustain with the available resources. Then you see article after article telling you to engage your customer. What does that really mean?

I will simplify things and state that your social media, heck ALL of your media through any channel you choose, has to provide value. If it provides value then there's a return. I'm not going to get into ROI measurement though. That's way off topic!

So if value is the goal, then this is actually fairly simple. I just need to engage my customers in a way that provides value. There are probably hundreds of things, content, conversations, etc. that your customers might find value in. This allows you to tailor your involvement to a level that is sustainable by your company.

You might say that customer support is paramount. Instead of a telephony tree you're having a conversation with the customer through social channels to try and assist them. Same value to the customer, just a different channel. You would be placing a high value to the customer on conversing.

However, what if you simply published lots of great content that kept the customer informed of new products, corporate announcements, locations to seek help, upcoming events, and other information? What if you never replied to a comment or tweet? As long as the customer achieves the same level of value and satisfaction that you decide they should from the engagement, isn't that still success?

At the root of this is the cost of the engagement which would be akin to acquisition cost for a sale. Is the effort to engage in a certain way valuable enough to you to then go and make the channel valuable enough to the customer? Only you can answer that for your company.

There are companies that have put up channels specific to different functions. For example, you might find a corporate channel with news, a support channel providing customer support, and an events channel that covers trade shows and what not.

On the flip side you might find a company that doesn't engage in social media at all. Apple does not. How could this be? It IS 2014 after all! I would argue they simply do not find the value in supporting it to the level in which the customer would find the appropriate level of value. By not engaging they may actually be saving brand value.

As I said, only you can decide what your company values for providing value to your customers. There's no On/Off switch for social media. It's a bank of dimmers and you can turn each one up or down depending on the function and the value you assign. If you don't want to take customer support through your Twitter handle, don't. If you want to answer every single comment that comes in to build brand awareness, then do it.

I think the most important part is to be consistent. Consistency builds expectations, and expectations build value.

Hope you found value in this... ;-)


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