How can companies adapt to evolving social media expectations?

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on May 3, 2013

From The News Desk

For years now, social media has been touted as one of the most important marketing aspects in the tech industry. At first it was important just to have a strong social media presence, now it’s increasingly beneficial to take heed in every social event and interaction surrounding your enterprise. Not only should your business advertise on Twitter, it has become important to respond to Facebook comments and “check in” on Yelp. Startups now are aiming to capitalize on this trend. Social media now both connects private individuals to their friends, as well as people to the brands they like.

As social media evolves, companies are beginning to use it in new, more marketable ways. Take for example, Nimble and Conversocial. These two companies are not doing the same thing, but they are trying to stake their claim in the trend of growing connection between customers and the products they use. Conversocial sees social media as a way to foster positive customer service interactions and creates a way for businesses to respond to social media. Nimble, on the other hand, streamlines social media relationships to create a contact page that fosters more meaningful, personal business correspondence. Both are just examples of ways social media is causing business to change their marketing strategies.

Two weeks ago, Conversocial CEO Joshua March gave a tech talk in New York. He explained the changing landscape that social media has created. “For years,” he said, “social media for companies was just about publishing advertising.” However, as social became bigger, March saw something new. “People were turning to public social channels, and they were complaining publicly.”

Thus came March’s idea for Conversocial. The startup created a platform that translates social media interactions into a proper customer service dashboard for a company. It searches, streamlines, and organizes all social media conversations and mentions related to your business and provides an easy way to respond accordingly. This doesn’t just mean comments on your Facebook page, but tweets to your Twitter – either directly to your official handle or not, and anything else that may arise. For example, if someone Tweets about a poor experience with your company and doesn’t directly mention you with a Twitter handle, Conversocial still tracks this post and provides an avenue for response.

Conversocial is a way to intercept those who are talking about your brand – whether it be positive or negative – and respond, making it into a positive, proactive interaction. Most business models see social media as a way to further advertising. Conversocial, however, sees itself as understanding social media beyond its mere advertising capabilities.

Nimble is another startup looking at social media and trying to work with its evolving stronghold. CEO Jon Ferrara sees a changing customer-business landscape. “I think expectations of the customers and the employees are changing,” he told me. What he means is that it is no longer the job of the business to holler at the customer about its product. Instead, it’s a much more social interaction. In his words, “The hierarchal, corporate going to get washed away by the emergence of the social customer and the social employee.”

Nimble is a Customer Relationship Platform (CRM), but it sees itself as a Social Relationship Platform. CRMs, for Ferrara, have a negative connotation: “A CRM is a transactional logging tool you’ve got to force sales to use.” He sees traditional CRMS as an unhelpful way for business employees to log their customer interactions. Nimble’s goal as a CRM is different because it creates a centralized place to manage your business accounts through the vantage point of social media platforms.

For businesses, “the conversation shifts from these different points and you have to shift with these different points. And in the end you don’t have context.” Nimble puts all social interactions between you and the customer in one place, instead of having to refer to your Twitter account, Outlook account, etc. For example, you remember you met someone at a business event. You add a Nimble account for him or her, and then it aggregates all of the social media pages as well as interactions and correspondences you’ve had with this person into one page.

Nimble’s idea isn’t revolutionary, but it does take into account the shifting environment social media is creating. I can tweet about a bad experience about a bad business transaction I had and it’s part of the public transcript. This is beginning to change with the likes of Conversocial and Nimble who see themselves as leading a new brigade of understanding its power and transforming it into something positive.

What this translates into is new expectations between consumers and businesses. All these companies are doing is realizing the power this realization has and are creating ways to create better business relationships. As Ferrara put it, “I think expectations of the customers and the employees are changing.” Now it’s time for businesses to understand how powerful this change is.

[Image courtesy tastybit]