CTAM Summit 2009: Don’t Miss The Boat on Social Media, Panel Warns

Media companies must navigate social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook
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Denver — Click here for more CTAM Summit 2009 coverage

As
social networking becomes more prevalent among consumers of all ages,
media companies will have to learn how to navigate the various social
media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to reach out and market to
their customers, according to a panel of media executives speaking at a
CTAM Summit ’09 panel session Monday.
With 60% of online users
members of social-networking sites, Edward Naef, vice president of
media-strategy consulting firm CSMG, said the category is no longer a
niche product used mostly by young people. In fact, he said, some of
the largest growth for companies like Facebook has come from people 35
years and older.

“It’s moved beyond niche status and has become mainstream,” he said.

As
a result, media companies need to engage their customers on these
platforms to monitor what people are saying about their product and to
try to alleviate any concerns or problems that may arise.

“It’s
ultimately a conversation [with consumers], as opposed to companies
just putting something out there,” said Mike Ryan, CEO of interactive
company A Different Engine.

For media companies like Comcast,
that means meeting their subscribers on Facebook and Twitter, as well
as blogging on its own broadband site to reach out to consumers who
have questions — or in some cases complaints — about the company’s
service, said senior director of national customer operations Frank
Eliason. It’s especially important to reach out to that 1% of
social-media users who are very vocal and engaged, he said, because
oftentimes they are the voice of a social community that can help or
hurt the brand.

“Our social-networking strategy is, we’re listening to customers and when and where we can we help them,” he said.

The
benefits can include an increase in customer retention, positive
feedback about the brand and potential focused and targeted marketing
opportunities, according to Eliason. On the negative side, he said,
such aggressive interaction with customers via blogs and tweets could
lead to employees giving out wrong or misinformation about a product or
a company policy. When that happens, the best policy is to be honest
with the customer.

“If you mess up you fess up,” he said. “If you do it properly, they will become your biggest advocates.” 

Naef
said companies who are slow to enter the social networking arena do so
at their own peril. “Social networking is not a fad, it’s here to say
and it’s beginning to replace other forms of communication,” he said.

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