Social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the like — have been growing like the fig tree, both in depth and width.
Organisations that understand the power of information have been milking the social media.
Armed with social media tools, the clients and customers also have a voice that transcends borders and bureaucracies.
They can tweet anyone, from doorkeepers to presidents, or spread the message online for all to see.
Social media platforms offer businesses effective, far-reaching and cheaper options to reach their clients in a world where traditional media is shrinking.
Take marketing: As a concept, it is as old as the creation story.
In the Garden of Eden, as recorded in the Bible, Eve successfully marketed the forbidden fruit to Adam through word-of-mouth.
You know the rest of the story. Since then, world-of-mouth has reigned supreme in influencing people to consume goods and services.
Social media follows this proven path.
Social media has helped companies build brands by giving clients a strong voice.
If a service or product is good, online clients approve it by clicking the “Like” button.
Individuals use online channels to talk about it. Other platforms offer options for giving a product or service “stars”, ranging from one to five.
If the product or service is below their expectation, it receives a one star, and five stars if they are happy about it.
In a growing online presence, these “stars” and “likes” mean something to the company.
They can drive profits north or south. They, therefore, make the company owners step up their game to please the customer.
If well managed, social media can help companies sell by directing online visitors to products or services their friends bought or liked.
Hundreds or thousands of “likes” raise the profile of a product and snatches customers from poor performing brands.
The good thing is the company doesn’t pay for it.
There is a body of evidence that shows that friends are more likely to buy what their friends have bought or recommended.
A friend’s influence pales in comparison to influence by ads on TV, radio and other media.
This underlines one point. Build a product or offer a service, and make it easy for people to approve it, online.
The more “likes” it gets, the more popular it becomes and the more likely it is to sell. Is that not the basic concept of marketing?
If you get a bad service, or what you consider a raw deal from your bank, insurance, doctor or elsewhere, you can post a complaint on social media, and tag the company.
Soon, you will be inundated with offers from competitors.
You will also be surprised to see a representative from the company that short-changed you promising to make things right.
Companies can no longer ignore their clients’ complaints. Failure to pay attention to clients could hurt a brand.
Listening to online vibes could also offer suggestions on new ways to improve the company and its products.
Portraying your company as a caring organisation not only improves your brand, but also attracts future employees.
It builds your equity as a good employer.
Who doesn’t want to work with a responsive and caring organisation; one that uses the latest tech tools but is also available online and offline?
You can also use social media as a source of data to improve your brand.
You can gather information about what your clients say about your goods and services online, and use it to prop-up your business.
Until recently, this was the kind of information that companies would spend tonnes of money to harvest through market surveys.
It is now available on social media. Milk it!
The writer is an informatics specialist. [email protected] @samwambugu2