Social Engagement is the Norm

Looking over games, blogs, news sites, etc. one thing strikes me about the future of ALL businesses.

All businesses are going to have to be customer-engaged to succeed.  They'll need posts, comments, Tweets, emails, FAQS, forums, and more because THAT is the new normal.

Part of this is the influence of social media, of course (as I noted, social media is normal anyway), but part of this is the accessibility the internet provides.  People expect to be able to communicate, get answers, get information, etc.

That means smart companies, old and new, are going to look on how to engage people – from classic forums to new social media.

In my professional life among co-workers, association members, discussion groups, I see this a lot – the need to engage customers with online media.  It's going to affect your career, no matter what, from the programmer designing it to the marketer coping with it.

A few thoughts on this New Norm of Customer Engagement:
1) It's a competitive advantage not just in how your customers react, but in your image, and will probably be something that will be part of your growing online reputation.  When a competitor has Tweets, forums, a Facebook site, and a chat channel and you have a 3-page FAQ you'll be humiliated even if your product is better.
2) A lack of socially engaging customer communication could eventually be seen as a deviation from the norm.  I see that becoming an issue within 5 years – there will be something weird about a company without a moderate social media/customer engagement process.
3) It's an excellent research tool.  Companies that leverage this properly will gain a huge competitive advantage that outstrips customer feeling and ease of use of product.  Good "Datarati" could make all sorts of use of the information from customer engagement.

And for your job?

  • Programmers – as I've noted before, just get some knowledge of implementing social media.  There's no debate.
  • Writers/Artists/Media people – You produce content.  Make sure your company/site has a way to engage people, they expect it.  If you're becoming a celebrity, this will become even more important as it maintains contact with your fans.
  • Marketers/Salespeople – This is a salestool and an image tool.  Use it that way and be aware that if your company lacks social engagement that's an image problem.
  • Business/Accounting/.etc. – Set aside money, time, and research for these things.
  • Security – Welcome to the open world of social media and customer engagement.  Be ready to set up filters, security, encoding, and more.
  • PR People – You're existing in a wonderful time with the ability to screw up spectacularly.  Keep that in mind – and remember the constant changes mean that you have an edge if you keep up on them.

Social engagement is the new norm for companies.  Be ready – because you may have to convince some people how important it is, or be ready for the onslaught of work involving it.

– Steven Savage