Cynthia Clark, Senior Writer, 1to1 Media (US).
With the second week of January coming to a close, the signs of the recent holidays are quickly disappearing. Spendthrifts have been replaced by savers and healthy salads are taking the place of gluttonous meals. What remains of the holidays are the resolutions to be better in 2012.
For many marketers, resolutions include a stronger social media presence. According to the State of Social Media Marketing report, by Awareness, marketers want to increase their presence across social media marketing platforms, increase the frequency of content publishing, and have a more robust social marketing management and monitoring strategy in 2012.
These resolutions are ambitious considering that more than two thirds of the 300-odd marketers who took part in the survey said they don’t have sufficient resources to do so. However, investment in social media efforts is on the rise as more C-level executives recognise the importance of this means of communicating with their customers.
In a recent conversation with Kevin Nolan, Aegis‘ head of marketing for the Americas, he highlighted the fact that social media has helped customers and prospects be better informed about the companies they’re considering doing business with. But more important, customers are gathering valuable information about the competitors of their chosen brands, enabling them to compare and contrast before making a final purchase decision.
Nolan believes that the rise of the better-informed customer is partly due to the increase in information availability through social media channels, which has brought customers together with their peers to discuss companies, products, and services. For example, a customer looking for a new microwave on Amazon isn’t constrained to getting his information from the manufacturer. Instead, he can read customer reviews to help him find the item that best fits his needs within his price point. “Customers have options, and before making their choice they are increasingly consulting social media and looking at conversation threads about particular products,” says Nolan.
According to Nolan, social media will also have a greater role in the call centre environment in 2012. He points out that since customers are doing their research prior to contacting a company, they are better informed when they connect with a call centre agent. Nolan says social media is becoming an integral part of call centre agents training since they have to be able to answer more elaborate questions from better-informed customers. “Customers are expecting more from the companies that they do business with. The bar is increasingly getting higher,” Nolan says.