Richard Branson on ‘Social’ Relations

People no longer want to be sold to; they want companies to help them find an informed way to buy the right product or service at the right price. They still watch ads, but often online rather than on TV, and they’re much more likely to view ads that friends have recommended. When something goes wrong with a product, they want to be able to reach the company instantly and get a quick solution.

How companies adapt to this energetic and sometimes chaotic world will define their future success. The website, Facebook page, blog and Twitter feed are no longer add-ons to a business’s communication budget: They should be central to its marketing strategy, and used in coordination with other marketing efforts.

As a first step in addressing your problem, make sure your site is set up not just to handle transactions, but also for communication – and that when customers leave comments or send emails your team always follows up. Depending on the channels you choose, this might mean helping your customer service staff adapt to new methods of communicating. Once they have, you must continue to keep in touch with customers yourself.

In the past, I would ask Virgin customers to write to me with problems or ideas, and I often called people to talk about the problems that came up. It was a great way to check on our businesses’ quality and standards – though many of the complainants believed one of their friends was playing a practical joke on them. To this day, I try to answer as many e-mails as I can and encourage our executives to do the same.

Beyond customer service, you may need to consider that the old divisions between advertising, marketing and public relations have broken down, so it’s time to review how your marketing team works. Virgin Atlantic recently created a Social Relations team to manage the combined media space and to make sure our sites and communications are current and interesting, maintaining the cheeky flair that characterizes the brand.

You can follow the ‘via’ link above to go to the source if you’d like to read the rest of Richard Branson’s perspective. Comment below or ‘connect’ above so we can talk about how this applies to your business…

About Todd Lohenry
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