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Consumers Are Benefitting From The Social Media Communication Shift

02/27/2012

Not too long ago businesses had the upper hand in communication – be it to customers, prospects or vendors. Companies controlled the dialogue, and it was primarily one way: Businesses mailed, broadcasted and emailed information to customers. If there was a problem, customers could phone the call center, but that was often a time-consuming and frustrating proposition.

If customers weren’t satisfied with the company’s response to the complaint, they could vent to their co-workers and friends and, if the problem was troublesome enough, lodge a protest with a consumer advocacy group or government agency. Again, this was often a time-consuming and frustrating proposition.

Today, if individuals are unhappy with a product or company, they can make their displeasure known to their circle of friends on Facebook, and they can tell their friends, who can tell their friends, etc. Depending on how many followers they have on Twitter, disgruntled customers may even be able to tweet their unhappiness to a global audience. Ripples in a pond.

It is clear that today’s customers have unprecedented insight and choice about the companies with which they do business. That has been a shock to the management of many businesses, who are ill-prepared to deal with this customer revolution.

The tide is not turning back, however, so companies that want to thrive—or even survive—in this new landscape need to rethink their business strategies and develop tactics that put their customers first.

The first step is changing the paradigm that social media is a mildly effective marketing tool. A more proactive perspective of social media is that it is a connection point to shape a company’s social business. Businesses applying the same zeal and focus on their social media footprint as they have previously in creating a catalog or television spot.

This shift should not be intimidating. Rather it is an opportunity for businesses to change what was the natural order of things – in their favor. Adept social businesses can unseat corporate market leaders through thoughtful and genuine communication. What an opportunity! Go out and make a few ripples. It might be the best thing you’ve ever done for your brand.

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