Building fanbases with enterprise social media

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My November 25th article for ComputerWorld HK: http://www.channelworld.in/news/building-fanbases-enterprise-social-media-149112011

Computer work used to be a highly anti-social behavior. Sitting alone in a room typing away on a computer was once the realm of solitary computer geeks–vaguely sociopathic individuals whose tasks were one level removed from the social cauldrons of work and play.

But nowadays, social media has become a game-changing, anytime/anywhere phenomenon, available on standalone desktop computers and on a full range of mobile devices. Being ‘social’ now includes the user in real-time marketing, real-time customer service, and real-time user analytics–all of which can produce essential information for businesses trying to better understand their customers actual behavior, likes and dislikes.

Some use social media simply to connect with friends on Facebook, upload videos on YouTube or post on a microblog. However, social media is moving beyond the domain of the individual and into the enterprise world. The traditional model of blasting messages to customers and potential customers is fading (because trust in corporations has sunk to an all-time low), but a new model is emerging. The same customers who are tuning out the old, formulaic advertiser messages they’ve been subjected to for years are tuning in to their own personal world of social media for product and marketing advice.

Leveraging enterprise social media

This new reality offers great opportunities to any company willing to step into the social media world. But how can enterprise tools help with typical social media activities like building fanbases, brand and anti-brand management, brand-loyalty enhancement, crowdsourcing, customer and potential customer engagement, customer feedback or real-time customer service?

By mining conversations across multiple social channels, sentiment analysis can help create strategies and engage new customers, while revealing insight into a company’s products. It can also pinpoint the “blog influencers”: the individuals whom other bloggers turn to for insight or direction. It can help companies easily track and measure what people are saying about them and their products, all in real-time.

Services such as Meltwater Buzz, Radian 6, Social Mention and Google Alerts help users search social media-mention by keyword or phrase, or by channels of interest such as blogs, social networks, news outlets or online Q&A communities. An online social media monitoring tool can help with reputation management by scanning hundreds of millions of Web pages for mentions of a company or product. Any mention deemed negative to a company’s message, image or products can be countered quickly by intervention within the social media sphere, allowing the company to quickly present its side of the story.

How it works

Social media enterprise collaboration tools allow functionalities like predictive prompting, predictive publishing, attitude analytics, and social analytics such as “ultimate drill-thru”: which lets a user drill down to a customer agent record, double tap on a mobile or video call number associated with that record and then actually connect with the individual who is being analyzed.

It’s no surprise that the Internet–one of the greatest inventions of the twentieth century–is now the watering hole of the twenty-first century: a place where people can quickly gather to socialize and connect with friends, family members and acquaintances in a way unimaginable only ten years ago.

A Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn presence is no longer enough to enhance customer relationships–companies must monitor these sites for discussions about their products and services as well.

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