One of the most important things this social media culture presents, however, is a good customer experience. It therefore only makes sense that businesses would want to use social media to give clients a chance to share those positive experiences with one another. But what businesses need to be aware of is that negative experiences can be shared just as easily. While an organization in question may have control over their own social media pages, they have almost no control over what their customers choose to post. Some companies have been unpleasantly surprised to discover that their well thought-out social media campaigns (designed to inspire and spread good feelings) were quickly hijacked and transformed into something to damage their brand’s reputation. Before you begin any social media campaign, look at it from every angle and be prepared well in advance to handle any damage control that may be needed.
Despite the dangers of social media campaigns backfiring, when done correctly a well-designed campaign can quickly and easily go beyond the scope of your original expectations. As clients and potential clients encounter and share your campaign with their own contacts, it can grow exponentially. Never before has a medium offered so much potential return for so little investment---all it takes is something sharable and an understanding of customer interests.
Proper social media usage can improve a company’s brand by allowing employees to quickly solve problems for disgruntled customers, directly connect with new customers and discover potential customers as they share and post across the various social media platforms. But in order to get the most out of this new medium, you need to understand it. New tools are being developed all of the time to assist organizations in tracking and quantifying their social media returns. For instance, the use of social media monitoring technologies will increase nearly two-fold in the next 12–18 months.
One thing seems obvious: Social media is here to stay. If you’re in charge of a company’s social media, make sure you take that task very seriously. Respond to your followers, let them give you their opinions and actually listen to them. Most important, don’t lose your focus. Social media is a service for connecting people, and when you connect with people online there’s a good chance they’ll connect with your brand in-store as well. After all, social media is about the customer. If you fail to remember that one simple truth, there’s a good chance the next post or hashtag will end up coming back to bite you.