Social media websites came out of nowhere and have taken the entire world by storm. The statistics of most social media websites are known to everyone with just the click of a button. But just to jog your memory a little:
- If Facebook was a country, it would have been the fourth most populous in the World.
- Over 30 million pieces of content are created and shared daily over Facebook
- 750 million photos were uploaded on Facebook over the New Year’s weekend
- 48% OF 18-34 year olds log into Facebook first thing in the morning
Clearly, today’s customers are connected very strongly via the Internet. Social media today provides an immense opportunity for businesses as well. Social media offers a simple, inexpensive and quick way of keeping in touch with customers, long after they leave the business. It is no surprise then, that most businesses, particularly in the F&B segment, have dedicated employees updating their presence on social media platforms such as Facebook. The fact is that online marketing and social media strategy is something that no business can afford to miss out on. Social media presence can benefit businesses in several ways:
- Maintaining a “recall” in their patron’s minds
- Keeping their customers informed of upcoming events and promotions
- Providing an opportunity for their customers to provide positive reviews over a public forum
- Customers can also act as “brand angels”; if they are really satisfied with their experience, they can “like” the establishment’s online page which can quickly promote the business to several more people, and a virtuous cycle results
Thus, we observe that maintaining an online presence can yield substantial benefits to a business in the short as well as long run. These benefits appear magnified when considered in the context of the time, effort and expenses involved in the process. For a very nominal expenditure of resources, business establishments can tap into and exploit the full range of opportunities offered by social media.
There are two sides to a coin, and a social media strategy too needs to be employed with caution. Social media is a double-edged sword. Just as positive reviews by customers can propel a business to great heights in a matter of minutes, a single negative review can snowball into a horrendous PR nightmare. There are numerous examples of how entire businesses have succumbed to a few negative online reviews by disgruntled customers. Businesses are exceptionally vulnerable in this digital age as not only is it very easy and convenient for customers to post their complaints at the touch of a button, but the really worrying part is that they can do so anonymously, thus protecting them from any untoward legal implications. Businesses, therefore, need to continuously monitor the live feeds pouring on their online pages, keep a check on each and every post that comes in, and give a suitable response to any negative review before it spirals out of control. Better still, they may want to develop mechanisms to prevent negative rants from going viral online in the first place.
To sum it all up, we can safely say without any doubt that businesses today need to be present online, and they need to make a conscious effort to keep their online image pristine. It goes without saying that social media strategy is a complement to exemplary customer service, not its substitute. No amount of facebook updates and Twitter tweets can ever make it up for an unpleasant experience. Negative reviews on social platforms should be sorted out quickly and handled in an effective manner to prevent the bad word from spreading.