Today marks the last day of Social Media Week 2014, a leading media and publishing platform occurring in over 10 cities across all continents, reaching a global audience. I had the pleasure of being part of the Social Media Week London platform, speaking alongside Matt Ballantine from IG Digital – presenting key findings from The Digital Customer Experience white paper.
Part of our talk touched upon how consumers are now empowered. Through the use of social technologies, transparency between organisations and their customers is greater than ever meaning businesses have less control. However, I urged the attendees and I encourage you reading this, to embrace social networks because consumers are empowered - but brands can be too.
Adopting a social approach to business can empower and has empowered modern organisations. There are a handful of social businesses utilising social networks cleverly and practicing social listening to gain valuable data, looking to LinkedIn for new hires and engaging through social networks. These are great examples of organisations using social networks to gain back control.
Another key point made by Matt and I was the need for companies to embrace social networks, rather than social media. Earlier this month, as part of my South East PRCA chairperson role, I attended their Digital PR launch where statistics showed an alarming 87% of companies use social media as a form of marketing, compared to only 51% using it for customer service.
This approach to social networking is disconnected and a waste of time in today’s digital age. Using these social networks as an extension of the business, to engage and create two-way conversation, is much more meaningful and relevant than using a social network to churn out marketing ‘noise’.
From our talk, we drew on the fact that there is a lot of media hype surrounding the future and how technology will shape it, but it’s important to focus on the now too. This ties in well with Social Media Week’s global theme ‘The Future of Now: Always On, Always Connected’. Now is the age of digital and social technologies are here to stay. This new way of communicating needs to be embraced, not ignored.
It’s also important to remember that despite the importance of digital, the growth of it actually makes traditional forms of engagement and dialogue all the more meaningful and significant. Creating a virtual connection is vital, but so are the traditional forms of networking and communication. The breakfast briefings, the luncheons and golf days are still just as important, but social networking can enrich these relationships.
Social Media Week itself aims to capture, curate and share the most meaningful ideas, best practices and trends with regards to social media. However I also see Social Media Week as the perfect example of how digital has connected us. Whether it’s as customers, brands, partners or stakeholders, Social Media Week 2014 has connected, enhanced and encouraged collaboration in this increasingly globalised society.