Image by Matt Hamm via Flickr
We often talk about social media marketing, and extol the virtues of YouTube videos, blogging, Twitter and many other ways to get the message out. And those things are all important. And marketers really should be taking notice. But I think that, in some ways, we are missing the boat on the bigger revolution. To me, the most important parts of social media are not marketing at all. Social media is important in so many different parts of a business that I thought I should start ticking them off.
First, one of the things that some companies overlook (I know, not yours) is that public relations is a huge part of social media. PR folks already know how to tell a story that your target audience wants to hear and to pass on. And when something goes wrong and the blogosphere erupts, PR people have the experience to deal with the problem using all the skills they developed with mainstream media.
Beyond marketing and PR, market researchers should be involved in social media. The difference between market researchers and PR people is that they both understand how to analyze bad news, but market researchers can use statistical analysis to separate the news from the noise. If you don’t have market researchers on your social media team, then you might find yourself chasing all the wrong issues.
You need sales people, too. You’ve probably seen Dell’s Twitter stream of coupons, but did you know that some companies are monitoring the conversation about their generic product and service categories and dispatching sales people to contact prospects who are asking for help with a purchase? For many businesses, that makes as much sense as following up on someone’s business card handed in a trade show.
Customer service people need to be involved, too. If you want your customers to be happy, why do you wait for them to call and complain? If they bellyache on Twitter, why don’t your customer service folks answer them? A lot of leading companies are taking this approach and you can, too.
Don’t forget research and development. You know that customers are complaining about your products, but why should customer service be the only ones that get all that information? They can help one customer at a time, but your R&D people can fix the whole product line for every customer.
I know I just listed a huge number of roles, so by now you’re starting to think that, the people that should be involved in social media is basically anyone with a neck. And that might be right, come to think of it. If you have only one department listening to social media conversations, without sharing the information with others, it might be time for you to look into a better way.