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Social Media is usually the coveted domain of marketing departments, yet the benefits of social media stretch way beyond marketing.  A good starting point is to consider not what it allows companies to do, but what it allows their customers to do.

Most companies try to measure Social Media Marketing in terms of revenue, sales, follows, reactions and other absolute business generating measurements. That’s great…but what about measuring how social media can provide a gratifying alternative to call centre service, saving customers time, and a vehicle through which customers can express their ideas and frustrations, unlocking new business insights? That’s just the beginning.

The benefits of social media customer service

For most companies, customer service is a major cost. Social media helps take out some of that cost in a number of ways. For example, a customer might post a question and another fan might answer it (you just moderate and make sure it’s right).  Then there’s proactive service, which eliminates the need for calls altogether. Just by keeping customers up-to-date with outages or incidents on social media, and you can lighten the load on the contact centre and keep everyone happy.

Customer complaints on social media are opportunities

Customers love to vent. It’s a release mechanism. So let them vent and deal with the issues. Yes, some will just complain for nothing, but when people do that and feel they are listened to and someone responds (and responds well!), they feel appreciated. They feel the ‘big company’ is personal. Even though they may have had a frustrating experience, they want to stay if you quickly assist or even just say, “sorry”.

Companies that do this well will usually turn around a detractor to a promoter. This has the potential to reduce negative word of mouth and give the company an opportunity to rectify bad customer experiences, learn from mistakes, and improve. Without social media, companies could be walking in the dark for months, not even knowing they have a major issue on their hands, resulting in customers haemorrhaging and loss of revenue.

Unlock new business ideas through social media insights

This may be a novel idea but lots of companies spend truckloads on market research, competitor analysis, intelligence focus groups and more. Instead, why not save the money on those and get fans and customers to tell you what they think? Social is great for finding out what people love about your competitors, what they don’t like about your business, and what makes people tick in general. That should be every senior executive’s dream.

So what’s the bottom line?  Stop trying to measure how Social can get you more business, and start measuring what costs it can reduce and how it can help you get better at customer engagement, service and keeping up with competitors.  The benefits of social media come from listening to customers, interacting with them, making them happy, rewarding them for interacting, and helping them to tell the world why your product or service is great.  If you do this, you won’t need to measure Social on its own.  After all, you’ll be too busy measuring your company’s growth!

This article was contributed by a Matchboard Consulting expert.  To discuss ideas for your social media strategy, contact the author.