Posted on : 19-11-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Business, Social Media
I am in Las Vegas right now attenting the WOMMA Summit. Last night I had dinner with a good friend, Pete Blackshaw. Much of the conversation was about a piece that was in USA Today on Wednesday titled “Social Media, like Twitter, Change Customer Service.” Needless to say when I read the opening discussing a missed opportunity for my team I was a little upset. But this really started me thinking about Twitter and businesses that use it. Expectations have been high as this new engagement tool has been developed for businesses. I am proud to be one of the people that have really shown how it can be done. At the same time I think there is a divergence between the expectations and the realities.
I have heard businesses and individuals discuss the space as nirvana for communications. I do not believe it has achieved, or will ever achieve that level for anyone. Nirvana is way too high of a threshold for a tool to such as this to achieve. There are faults, like most means of communication, such as a fail whale once in a while (although much improved) or a tweet not coming through to the many tools that use the Twitter API. Besides the technical things that can happen, let’s face facts, we are human and at times we make mistakes.
So if this space is not nirvana, what is it and how can companies use it? Well have you ever heard of the theory of Pangaea (sometime spelled Pangea)? This is the theory that at one time all the world’s continents were together as one; the continent of Pangea. Twitter has proven to bring the world together for numerous events around the world, the most discussed probably the protests in Iran. I have always seen the benefit to Twitter as a way of meeting new friends (Facebook being the space for the friends I already know). Through Twitter search we can learn almost anything and connect with people that have the knowledge we are looking for or the thoughts we want to connect with. For businesses, it is not the space to force one sided conversations, as many people have sought. First and foremost it is a space that is worth listening to in an effort to learn and obtain information faster. Search is the key. Through this your organization will transform into a smaller place because you are connected directly to the Customers thoughts. In business it is impossible for every executive to review every interaction, but reviewing 140 characters will provide you the same information in a much easier manner to digest. One of the keys to this is this is not a metric or number, but instead the Customer’s view in their own words. Nothing is more powerful than that.
It can also be used to have actual dialogue with your Customers allowing them to be part of business solutions. Customers and employees of all levels have wanted a say in business operations for years, but there were no easy ways to do this, and in many cases it was not welcomed by individual leaders. The dictator style of leadership. Well social media has killed that syle and today it is involving others. It is a great way to do it because it creates immediate buy in. Those involved also have a vested interest in success. Twiter is an easy tool to involve your Customers. As you build a following, you can ask questions, even provide business problems and the crowd will help provide answers. This to me is probably the most enjoyable aspect to Twitter. I know some will say not every Customer is on Twitter, and that is a fair statement. At the same time there is no cost effective means to do this like in the same manner to all Customers.
Twitter is bringing the world together, even in business. Embrace this fact and strive to do the right things and your business will be successful.