Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The social media tipping point

I've been a bad blogger and not updated for awhile. One thought struck me in my absence. There is much buzz about social CRM. Interesting concept and one that's getting the social media bubble excited. I'm all for it, and cross-referenced the idea against several client and prospect meetings I'd had lately.

Client X (who shall remain nameless) bemoaned that head office had forced him to set up a Facebook page but would only go ahead if "there would be NO conversation". Client Y (also nameless) was struggling, as his division had developed a cool iPhone app, but the rest of his company (staff numbers in the tens of thousands) didn't care. He couldn't even get a meeting with the client support people.

Now, there was an elephant in the room, sitting quietly as we had those meetings. This particular elephant reminded me that every time you open a social channel - like Facebook, an iPhone app or Twitter stream - you're opening a 'door'. And once this door is open, anyone can walk through.

While some may like to think that social networks and channels were sites for marketing-led group hugs, the reality is people will want to talk and don't necessarily want to play by your rules. Frustrated by 9am to 5pm customer support queues? Comment on a company's wall. Angry about the delayed response from your local branch? Tweet about it.

The social channels are changing not just marketing, but the way businesses are structured. They're breaking down silos and forcing a greater level of inter-departmental cooperation. This is great news for those who've struggled over the years with political and bureaucratic barriers to commonsense.

The real trick for those just now embarking on their social media 'journeys' is to ensure they're connecting the dots now  - versus letting an angry customer set the agenda. And for those who've already pushed the social 'button' but not met with customer service, I suggest you make that call...

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