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Social networking has become a common element of sales and marketing inside most companies. Social media allows businesses to engage customers in market research, provide customer support, and gather information about both customers and prospects. However, though there are definitely benefits to social networking, there are also four pitfalls.
Here they are, along with how to easily overcome them. Social networking is far from cost free.
The pitfalls of social networking
It takes time to read and write blog entries and comments, set up contests, and participate in the social interaction of a user community. Unfortunately, the activity is often so dispersed among multiple individuals that it's difficult to figure out whether the activity is worth the effort in terms of new revenue.
Some companies deal with this problem by ignoring it. A better approach is to examine before-and-after changes in sales conversion rates and customer service expense.
If your social networking effort is paying off, you should see your conversion rates go up because of better le, better customer engagements and your customer service costs go down because the Social networking pitfalls provides remedial support.
In the past, many companies only allowed executives who had been media trained to talk to the press. Such training showed executives how to remain on message to reinforce the company's brand and use the press to further the company's strategic goals.
Mistake 1: focusing on quantity over quality
With social networking, though, any employee can post something that can damage your brand, as when a Chicago bartender recently put racist remarks on his Facebook. Similarly, employees have been known to grouse about their employers onlinethereby creating the impression among your customers that you treat your employees poorly.
To avoid such debacles, Social networking pitfalls explicit but flexible employee standards and appoint an administrator or ombudsman to monitor participation and gently work with and correct employees who violate them. Here's a great example from IBM. Once you open your social network to customer comments, it's only a matter of time before you get some negativity.
For example, the high-tech manufacturer Asus recently created a competition in which six people reviewed new products on a public website so that readers could rate their posts.
Unfortunately, the post that proved most popular was one that panned the product. However, attempts to control content like deleting negative comments will simply cause the discussion to move elsewhere on the Web, where you'll have even less control.
Worst case, you could find your customers participating on Social networking pitfalls social network run by your competitors, simply because they'll tolerate comments you're afraid to leave active. When confronted with customer negativity, your best response is to answer complaints with facts, and criticisms with understanding.
This allows you to address problems quickly, squelch rumors, and feed information to your customer base. Because the Internet enables and even encourages anonymity, it's almost inevitable that you'll end up with some of your competitors in your community.
Social media pitfalls and how to avoid them
Given that they're probably hanging out in order to pick up some competitive intelligence, they may seek to guide discussions in directions that might reveal plans you would prefer to keep secret. Employees and customers may have hidden agendas, too.
An employee, for instance, might post anonymously, hoping to influence product development to favor a pet project. Or a customer might use multiple aliases to rally support for a feature that would only be useful for that individual customer.
The solution is to treat social networking as an input to market research rather than a replacement. Take everything you learn with a pound or two of salt, and vet any ideas that surface to ensure that they actually serve your company's longer-term goals. Like this post?
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