With over 600 million users on Facebook and consumers spending more time on social platforms, brands are now using these channels to connect and engage with customers in the hope of influencing their purchasing decisions.
But not everyone is happy about this.
As we speak many business executives around the globe are quaking in their boots at the thought of losing control of the conversation or exposing their company’s soft under-belly.
Unfortunately for them the business opportunity in social media is no longer in question. That ship has sailed. The challenge for them is to create a social business model that aligns with their organizational values in order to capitalize on the reality of today’s market place.
They can learn a lot from American Express – OPEN Forum for example is an online resource and social networking hub for small business owners and entrepreneurs to communicate and share ideas with one another.
The fact that American Express – a highly regulated financial services company – has not shied away from reaping the benefits of social conversations, is an important lesson for undecided brands. Every day through OPEN Forum they connect, engage and influence potential customers without openly discussing their product.
Wells Fargo is another pioneer in the arena of regulated industries and social media. Their blog too treads lightly on their product and instead focuses on connecting, communicating and solving customers’ problems.
The new market place
Social conversations have created a permanent change in the way companies do business. And every industry must take note – whether you’re selling to consumers or to other businesses – in retail, financial services, technology, health care and even government.
At first this will not be an easy jump. There will be many threats for sure and things will happen quickly.
But “…the first step is to dip your toe. Once you’ve done that you can begin to see where your company can, potentially gain some advantage.” ~ ‘Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies’, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
Over to you: How will you take advantage of social conversations to influence your customers?