Customer engagement via social media doubles within a year

But start-ups are warned not to abandon traditional methods of communication

The number of customers engaging with businesses via social media has doubled – in less than a year. According to a study from Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research, the number of customers interacting with brands on social networking sites increased from 19% to 38% in the last eight months. The findings highlight the importance of small businesses having a presence on social media. However, start-ups were warned not to stop answering their phones just yet. “Some people still prefer to call an organisation, and preferences (depending on the nature of the interaction) will always dictate the method of contact,” said Mark King, VP of Aspect. Commenting on the findings he added: “While we do know that, for a growing number of people, social media is a very convenient channel to communicate with our peers, the research does not highlight how effective organisations’ social media strategies are. “It is very easy to get carried away by hype, but without a carefully considered set of processes, it can end up working as a separate entity, which has no real link with other channels.” However, the research revealed that customers would prefer to communicate with brands through social media than through a call centre, with 65% stating this preference. “Key benefits of social media are that it could help with call avoidance strategies, the cost per interaction is very low, and it can broadcast to a number of people at once,” King added. “For example, a utilities company could alert its followers to an outage very quickly, deflecting a number of calls that might otherwise come into the business. “Social media needs to be a cog in the wheel, turning social media engagements into productive customer dialogues – that create a positive experience and deliver significant business value.”

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