I would be the first in any room to profess my love for all things technology including social media. I jump from twitter to Facebook to email the same way people used to check their US mailboxes looking for letters – messages – a letter from a friend, a check or a card. I’ve even started watching shared videos which just a short year ago I swore I would not do. Those darn cute cats.
Like most software products, Facebook and twitter are each optimized to do something well, several things in fact. But many have found social media’s ability to publish information free-of-charge to hundreds of millions of people quite enticing to use for many more things than it was originally intended. Have you ever folded up an important paper to swat a fly or used the handle of a screwdriver to pound a nail because they were handy? If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Ideally, companies would send critical customer information to customers in the most effective and convenient way for the customer. Right? Why then, do so many companies use twitter and Facebook as their only means to publish critical information when (a) fewer than 1 in 5 US adults is an active twitter user and (b) although the majority of adults have Facebook, fewer than 1 in 5 would ever see the post on their own wall? Users are forced to go hunting for really important information. Customers are, at least, not receiving critical information, and at most, frustrated that you forced them to go hunting for critical information. Would you do that with an invoice? Your customers know the answer to that question.
The meteoric rise in users and media hype around social media gives the sense that companies can use it for any type of communication. Companies and organizations get lured into believing their social media communication is effective because it does feel impactful to engage people online. You talk directly to your customers and they respond. You solve their problems immediately. Wow, that is very powerful, but unfortunately, it also generally includes only a tiny minority of customers, especially when talking about more serious topics like utility power outages, major road construction or approaching weather events. By far, the majority of the top twitter accounts are celebrities publishing to their fan base. Hot consumer brands are next. Utilities are lucky to get 1% of their customer base even following them on twitter or liking them on Facebook. How many of those 1% will catch that important post when it flies by in their stream, if it does.
There is also an illusion that social media is free, but companies spend real money on staff to create, maintain and publish information. Sometimes, these teams can be quite large. Why not leverage the investment in information creation and push the messages to customers over more channels? In emergency alerting circles, it is well-known that you can’t over-communicate. Organizations are paying salaries for people to use screwdrivers.
The fact is – you can easily reach a larger audience with the same information and virtually no additional work. Personalized, opt-in messaging services like Ivytalk allow customers to select the best channel for them as well as the information they are interested in receiving. Targeted group messaging for business enables that important message to be pushed directly and personally to customers’ devices and twitter and Facebook increasing the probability the message is seen. Result: better informed and more satisfied customers.