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The trend for the last 3 or 4 years has been for businesses to try to tap into social media as a broadcasting tool. It's not universal, but many (most) see social media as a place to post their messages to prospective clients in hopes of switching on the social media faucet that touches a billion people worldwide.
The promise of social media for businesses, particularly local ones, has only been seen by a small percentage. Most believe there's something there, but they aren't certain that their efforts are going anywhere. In many cases, they're not. It's not that social media is so challenging that only the select few can get in, nor is it that there's no value in it.
It's about intention. Those with the intention of sheer marketing with social media will likely be met with limited rewards. People don't go to Facebook or Twitter to see what they want to buy or which services to select. They go to engage, to have fun, and to experience the virtual filter on the real world that social media has to offer them.
In other words, they don't want to see marketing. If and when they're ready to interact with a business through social media, it's because they have questions or needs that can be fulfilled through easy-access communication. This is the part that most businesses are missing.
The real promise of social media is not just to business, but lies an the center between business and consumer. More internet time is spent on social media than any other category; in fact, it's equal to the next three on the list (games, email, and portals) combined.
Businesses want to take advantage of this fact and many are trying, but customer service management is still 3rd on the list of initiatives they perform on social media with brand reputation management and driving promotions above it. This is backwards. Most businesses can achieve their top two goals by focusing on the customers themselves.
It comes down to a lack of understanding. Those who are able to focus their attention on their customers through social media will gain a better reputation and find it easier to broadcast their promotions as a result. It's counter-intuitive to all other forms of interactions with customers, but it makes sense once one realizes the true capacity of the medium.
This article was originally posted on Business Insider.
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