Social media for customer service?

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Marketing budgets of most companies have a new additional line item these days – social media! Companies are spending lavishly on this advertising medium and there is no stopping them.  The number of companies taking to ‘serious’ social media solutions is increasing rapidly.

What was once a platform for entertainment and socializing now means serious business. So what has turned this medium around in such a short span of time and why do marketers see value in it?

According to the 2011 social media industry report, the number one advantage of using social media marketing is generating more business exposure as indicated by 88% of marketers. Increased traffic (72%) and improved search rankings (62%) are the other indicated advantages. Another under rated yet important advantage of social media marketing is giving the customers a platform to express themselves. The likeability and popularity of a brand can be easily judged with it’s social media presence and the traffic on their social media. Not only does social media help judge the popularity of a brand with the sheer presence of fans or followers, it gives the customers a voice and a strong one!

Though online customer complaint websites and call centers have been the most popular customer redressal forums, social media sometimes can make or break a brand’s perception due to the high visibility and access that people have to it. A customer can express their delight and address their problems at the same place. Where one can prove to be an excellent positive word of mouth example, the other can have a negative impact and change the perception of a brand in the minds of people who can access the very same medium.  It’s a win-win situation for customers. They hear of the good and the bad straight from the people who have experienced the brand. But can this be a cause of worry for marketers and customer care experts?

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Founder of Facebook once said “When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place.”  Can this hold good for a brand that gives it’s customers a platform to express themselves? Or does it give customers way too much freedom and can hamper the brand’s image?

-Suruchi & Naimeesha

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