Homo sapiens is an exceptional breed. We, unlike other mammals, have evolved our lot to harness instruments designed primarily for respiration and ingestion for something truly unique and special: speech and expression. Our lips, tongue, and other elements of the vocal apparatus were in place primarily for feeding and breathing. We, however, decided to put the package to better use: articulation. Something that the non-human primates couldn’t. This idiosyncrasy is at the core of our human race. We make things better.
Once we learnt to vocalize, communication ceased to remain just about assigning sounds to thoughts. We ventured out. It was our turn to draw. We developed symbols. We learnt the value of longevity and impact in communication. 30, 000 years have passed since. We continue to transform. From Rock Art to Cave Paintings. From Cave Paintings to Writing. To advance has been our call. Today – we live in an age where memes are a generation’s way of keeping in touch. This is not an anomaly. This is a historical trend. This is our evolution.
Our world has over 7 billion people. A portal called Facebook has around 3 billion active users. There’s no escaping the fact that the architecture of our expression has changed. The landscape of our communication has changed. We are no more in the world we were in two decades ago. We’re no more in a world of even a decade ago. Today, social media is not a fad. It’s us. It’s how we see. It’s how we know. It’s how we feel. It’s how we decide to be.
This realization is deep within most of our people. It’s time the big and the old organizations of the world also see it for what this new age is set out to be — the age of engagement.
The long-in-the-tooth theory of organization is over. People no more see organizations as machines but as a collection of human beings interacting with other human beings deserving to be heard. The age of keeping people remain deliberately unheard is over. Today one can do it at one’s own peril. Surveys have found that if consumers do not receive an answer to their complaints they have addressed to the company, on social media, then more than 80% of those people will not recommend that company to the people they know. On the other end, customers are likely to spend up to 40 per cent more with companies that interact with them on social media making them feel heard, cared for, and respected.
An up-to-the-minute study has also found that about 40 per cent of customers expect a company to respond within the first hour. This number ascends to 80 per cent when it comes to the expectation of a response within the first 24 hours. Failing to engage is fatal.
Companies that do not engage with their customers on social media are losing them. Studies demonstrate that unresponsive companies keep losing customers perennially with a churn rate of 15 per cent when compared to brands that make an effort to respond on social media. Social media also provides deep customer insights that can not only burnish existing products with versions but also spark ideas to womb new products in innovation.
These statistics point to one clear message: developing a first-string social media architecture is now indispensable for any organization that wants to either survive or excel.
For, social media also is the only service channel with public exposure. It, therefore, with a brawny community of about 5 billion people, has the power to make or break corporations. It can turn corporations into cults and also cancel one to capitulation. A good response can add glory to your brand and a bad one can turn your mighty castle into the sand. It’s both the way and the wall. Organizations, therefore, need to approach the development and operations of their social media architecture with earnestness. It’s sacrosanct to staff the team with people equipped with distinct new-media skills. Social media demands people who are not only the habile surveyor of its architecture but also have the language tools in the quiver to hit when opportunities call for it. Organizations should learn to appreciate that social media is not one of your departments. It’s your every department blended into one. It’s not just another actor. It’s the lead. It’s what decides if your story will be heard.
A sturdy social media strategy needs to be premised on the understanding of the platform, modelled on the demographics of the audience, designed around the goals of the business, roofed by the expectation of the customer, and made lustrous by the beauty of interaction.
When it comes to social media, hitting the nail on the head is not simple. However, with a well-thought-out strategy, a proficient and dedicated team that is by-rights empowered and a management that has the courage of its conviction to usher in a new dawn: it can be done. It’s entirely possible to triumph in this age. There are exemplars out there who are shooting for the stars and at times even landing on them with flags of their brand in hand.
The writing, however, is clear on the wall for those who are still stuck with the dead and buried service channels. To win in this age: you have to bring yourself out of the cage. Interaction is no more a luxury. It’s your very product. Build it well. And – it will build you.
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are author’s own.