One of the most important advantages of social media is certainly the speed and efficiency in which it allows communication between people. For example, in the 2013 protests which took place in Turkey, social media played a vital role in communication. Many of the protesters were young men and women, students, and they organized the protests using social media. The plans of where and how the protests would take place spread through social media accounts rapidly, staging some of the biggest protests that Turkish people had witnessed in the country's history.
This is a great example of how social media can be used for change and for public mobilization. Similar examples took place during the Arab Spring and other incidents across the world. Social media has given people, especially the new generation which is very computer savvy, a new and effective instrument to come together for issues they believe in.
Here is a short video that illustrates some of the pros and cons of social media:
As the “Social media” topic can be found under “customer service” on the EcommerceWiki, let us take a look at the advantages and disadvantages from a business perspective.
- Public problem resolution: If you solve an issue for a customer, and this issue is valid for other customers as well, you can easily mass-inform them via social media. Besides that, other customers can see that you take customer care seriously.
- Direct Engage: You can engage directly with consumers. Other than email or written letters, engaging with customers through social networks is often direct.
- Social Profile: Businesses can use the social profile of both customers and prospects to better personally engage with them and leave a good brand experience. Please remember: A brand is what people think, feel and say it is, based on the sum of all experiences that they associate with that brand. Social media can be an important aspect in that.
- Social Listening: By listening to the social mentions about your brand (and those of your competitors), you can adapt to customers wishes faster, develop new products or services to help solve problems, create partnerships, etc.
- Social media can help getting new prospects or customers. Especially so called “look-a-like” campaigns can be effective. Social media profiles of your social fan base are compared to similar people in the social network.
- Social Media can be a direct-selling tool (see for example the way WeChat works in China) or can significantly attribute to a sale.
- With a social network, customers and fans can help each other, instead of the fact that all knowledge and interaction have to be at the customer service department.
Airline company KLM knows how to use social media to respond to complaints immediately.
Protect your reputation and your brand by learning how privacy laws apply to online social networking.
- Privacy: Be careful with the data you receive or use on social media. Some countries have very strict privacy laws.
- Information: Users can be overwhelmed with information. It is sometimes difficult to filter.
- Reach: Some social networks purposely limit the reach of your social posts. Only when you pay, your reach will be enhanced.
- Social media is transparent and open. Customer feedback is often immediately public. Respond quickly and change your organization if there are structural complaints. This is often a very difficult process for traditional companies.
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