What’s the difference between companies that are socially engaged with their customers and ones that aren’t?
On average, the former realize a return on investment (ROI) that’s more than four times higher than the latter. According to a recent report by the PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit, companies that are actively engaged with consumers on social networking sites realized an ROI of 7.7% while those that weren’t reported an estimated ROI of 1.9%.
The gap, says the report, shows how important it is for companies not just to “engage” for the sake of engaging (or, more bluntly, for them to add a Facebook page and Twitter account and think they’re done). Companies need to develop a real plan for engagement, as well as develop the appropriate skills, tools and knowledge. Unfocused or nominal engagement doesn’t bring in the big results.
The study, which covered 315 companies, invited executives to define social engagement — the top three responses were online listening (28%), blogging (24%) and building relationships with online influencers (21%) — and choose the parameters that determined their impact on the bottom line (e.g., revenue growth, improved customer service scores, etc.).
The top two areas where executives thought social engagement had real value? Improved marketing and sales effectiveness (84%) and increased sales and market share (81%).
The beauty of social engagement is you can talk directly to your customers, says Jeff Hunt, a PulsePoint principal and founding partner. If I were a plastic surgeon, I’d be wondering what is the digital journey that a patient goes on from the time that they first consider, say, a breast augmentation to the time that they end up in my office.
Which, of course, means listening as well as talking — both before a potential patient becomes a client as well as afterwards. According to PulsePoint, socially engaged companies benefit even more by welcoming customer input even when it’s negative.
Socially engaged companies aren’t afraid to hear bad things; in fact, they’d rather hear them than not, says Hunt. If you’re willing to listen, customers will tell you things you can do to make the experience better. Besides, that conversation is going to go on with or without you. Just because you’re not participating doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.