Presence in the digital media is nowadays a sine qua non for any firm; it is now hard to imagine any brand that is not represented in some way on internet.
One of the most fashionable and also most controversial ways of doing this is by social media. A huge number of doubts and qualms are still harbored about their real effectiveness, and statistical calculation of the much-vaunted ROI runs into constant problems due to the sheer difficulty of wielding total control over all the communities involved. This has created a distorted image that is no help at all to companies trying to work out the benefits and drawbacks of this brand-new marketing tool.
According to the study conducted by Tata Consultancy Services in 2012, 79% of companies worldwide have set up a brand-managing profile on one or other of the main social networking sites. Results are patchy due to the vast amount of study variables.
“There are over 1.1 billion Facebook users and over 300 million Twitter users”
For these activities to be successful it is essential for companies to rethink their traditional business procedures and phase in a commitment not only to the client/community but also to the digital media. Social networking sites have helped to set up a two-way management model in which the company takes on a direct responsibility with clients.
The Social Media plan has to go hand in hand with a global marketing mix strategy blending traditional and digital techniques, playing an important but limited role in terms of achieving results rather than the panacea that many companies once thought it was.
“44% of companies have not yet measured their social media return”
One of the most crucial factors is hiring the services of an agent, external or internal (the latter would always be more familiar with the organization and the values it wishes to get across) who knows how to create strategies, organize content, monitor keywords and measure returns, in order to be able to implement a social media plan effectively.
“Only one out of every three companies has an employee working in social media”
Another important factor to bear in mind is the firm’s own business model. B2C firms need a higher presence since the final client is their business base; social networking sites will therefore become one of the basic channels of communication with the clients and vice versa. They should work on this aspect with great care since their followers will eventually be brand evangelists or detractors.
B2B companies are usually more cautious and gear their social media strategy towards corporate reputation or branding, since the image they give to other firms will be the determining social-media factor over and above direct returns.
Oddly enough, however, it is in this type of business where social media have the biggest impact. The very fact that they are not used aggressively or for hard-sell purposes favors a more informative and value-based slant; this makes them especially influential in terms of final results, as shown by the AScend2 study.
This whole impact is especially notable in countries like Spain where 80% of internauts use social networking sites habitually, with over 17 million Facebook users and nearly 6 million Twitter users. Companies have cottoned on to this and by now over 60% of Ibex35-trading companies are using social networking sites, prime among them banks and energy firms. Report on Social Networks in Spain
“Social networking sites have changed from an interesting factor to a real need”
Companies are increasingly aware of the need of a presence on social networking sites, but are they going about it in the right way?
The last study by SocialBakers shows that companies’ customer-attention services are lagging well behind the times. Only 1 out of 10 firms respond to client questions and complaints, even in the knowledge that complaints and claims on social networking sites have grown by 56% so far in 2013.
Author: Sergio Pérez
Las opiniones vertidas por el autor son enteramente suyas y no siempre representan la opinión de GMV
The author’s views are entirely his own and may not reflect the views of GMV