Monmouthshire, United Kingdom (PressExposure) July 22, 2009 -- Brands are spending too much time viewing social media as a risk management exercise and are missing out on lucrative opportunities to engage with their audience, according to social media expert William Buist.
Buist claims that social media gives businesses an opportunity to develop new strategies and new ways of being in touch with customers and those who engage well and effectively will find they get significant information and feedback to help them develop and grow. But ultimately, he says the brand's approach to social media will largely be determined by whether they view it as a risk or as an opportunity.
"It's not enough to appear when a problem has arisen, make apologetic noises and leave, because the consumers see it purely as a means of correcting the current issue rather than correcting the underlying problem or listening to the consumers' voice over a period of time," explains William Buist, founder of The Societal-Web.com.
Buist says Brands that encourage their customers to talk to them have long been seen as more robust and stable than those that bury their heads in the sand, but in the social media world that means being around consistently, all of the time.
"That doesn't mean firing off short comments without thought, but having a well practiced, well rehearsed, experienced group of people interacting on behalf of your business with all of the social media sources for conversations about what you do," explains Buist.
For time-strapped businesses, this may sound labour-intensive, but Buist claims that much of this can be automated, and Brands can easily monitor when a conversations starts and respond accordingly. In some cases, brands may choose to start the conversation themselves, as was the case with Mornflake who are using a social media campaign to invite members of the public to make videos about their values. It's a social media driven awareness campaign from a 333 year old traditional company that's demonstrating interest in their customer's views and values.
"When people see your willingness to interact and deliver a consistent and persistent message about what you do, then you can find that social media can be really leveraged heavily for you rather than being a potential weapon for those few customers who do feel dissatisfied with what you've done. You cannot please all of your customers all of the time and so don't try to. There will be complaints and there will be comments that are negative, but in reality they're just part of the picture about the brand that's painted. It's not what they say that matters but how you react to it," says Buist.