Social media to change business marketing

New communications tools are prompting companies to reassess customer value.

Social media

Consumers' growing use of social media is changing the way businesses carry out their marketing, customer service, and even innovation, according to new research.

Almost two-thirds of companies are reconsidering how they define customer value, just over half believe that customer service is now a company-wide issue, and as many as 71 per cent say that customers are now a "critical" source of new ideas.

The study, carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by SAS, the software vendor, suggests that social media is making the relationship between companies and their customers much more transparent. In particular, customers are more likely to try to deal with C-level executives through social media than through other channels.

Businesses should respond, the report suggests, by integrating the "multichannel" feedback from blogs, community sites and social networks with their conventional marketing and market research data. This might mean providing additional training for staff tasked with interpreting the data.

The research also found that, although companies believe that information from social media sources is changing their understanding of customers' value to the business, few have gone as far as creating a new definition of customer value.

There is, the EUI suggests, a gap between the increasing volume of information provided to marketing teams through sales and marketing, and companies' abilities to turn that information into actions. Only 52 per cent of organisations were confident that they are using technology well enough to take advantage of the new information available to them even though, the EIU suggests, "extracting a competitive edge from these new channels will require careful analysis of customer behaviour".

Last year, Gartner, the industry analysts, published research suggesting that

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