Social media is opportunity to interact with customers

The perceived lack of effectiveness conveyed by the CIM’s social media report (Cover Story, MW 16 February) suggests that many marketers fail to understand what their customers are actually using social media for.

If marketers are solely focused on using Facebook and Twitter as an acquisition tool then they will be disappointed. Our Global Perspectives Research has shown that a third of UK consumers will only interact with a brand if they have a customer service issue – this alone suggests that brands should be looking at social as an opportunity for engagement and interaction with existing customers, rather than relying on it as a means of attracting new customers.

Our research also revealed that 75% of people would be more likely to interact with marketing emails based on a positive social media experience, illustrating the power of social to build brand advocates and loyalty across multiple channels if used effectively.

However, this does raise an important issue for marketers as brands must ensure that their presence on social reflects the overall marketing strategy. If brands are able to do this, the impact on brand perception and brand engagement could create significant sales opportunities.

Luke Griffiths
General manager, e-Dialog EMEA

When it comes to measuring social media success, the major challenge is most marketers’ understanding of what social media is.

It does not just mean “things we can measure on the web”. Media isn’t social, people are social. Anything you create that provokes a strong enough reaction that people share it therefore has social currency. The act of sharing will carry with it the associations and values you espouse thus creating a positive semantic association with your brand.

It is natural to want to associate a value with this, but consider the way the word ‘engagement’ is constantly used as though it is an objective measurement when it has eluded all such attempts to define it as an ‘industry benchmark’.

I would recommend focusing on the context of each action you take, changing your measures as you go if necessary to give you the information you need to better meet your objectives. When you review your success you will have done so on terms applicable to you and your audience, not on an illusory metric.

Mark Higginson
Director of social media, iCrossing