Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Social media's reach into the business world

There’s a fascinating article on the influence of social media on the BBC News website written by business editor Tim Weber entitled “Why companies watch your every Facebook, YouTube, Twitter move”. It’s well worth a read.

Weber makes the point that social media such as those noted in the title are so pervasive in terms of their influence on business that knowing and understanding social media has become a mission critical factor in business development.

He cites one example: “When Ford introduced the compact Fiesta car in the US market, it offered 100 people the chance to drive the car, on condition that they review the cars using social media. On YouTube, the Fiesta videos were viewed more than 6.5 million times, and - more importantly - towards the end of the campaign more than 50,000 people had expressed an interest in buying one.”

The influence can be felt on a macro (like the Ford example) or micro scale where a local blogger comments on customer service available at local establishments, such as I have done a few times. I’m not sure my comments about the widely varying levels of service at a chicken outlet on Blackmarsh Road are going to have much impact on the business operation, but if enough people complain, eventually the corporate franchise owners may take action although the generally pathetic level of customer service in St. John’s would suggest otherwise.

The fact is that the customer does have an enormous voice now via social media. As Weber notes, “social media is quickly becoming a customer relationship management system, as companies have "for the first time access to people's minds in real-time," says Jorn Lyseggen. The tools on offer provide companies with dashboards that show trends, hot topics, the reach of brands, customer mood and how competitors are doing."

The old adage was "if you're happy with our service, tell others; if not, tell us."  Now, if someone is unhappy with your service, they may tell 50,000 of their cyber friends.  Massive equation change from 1=10.

Power to the people takes on a whole new meaning.

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