Social Media Expands the Role of the Customer: But Conference Panel Warns against Sacrificing the Basics

Article excerpt

Customers are no longer just customers. That was the pithy conclusion of the August 9 keynote panel on innovative social strategies at CRM Evolution 2011.

Companies "are integrating customers into their activities, engaging customers in the creation of their business model, and getting rewarded so there is an immediate business benefit that circulates," said Paul Greenberg, managing principal of The 56 Group LLC and conference chair. Greenberg was joined by Ray Wang, principal analyst and CEO of Constellation Research Group, and Brian Solis, principal of Altimeter Group. The panel was moderated by Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal of Third Idea Consulting LLC.

While social media should be top of mind for businesses, Greenberg said, the basics cannot be ignored. "They are the fundamentals of what you have to do for your customers," he said. "Consequently, the hype around that these channels are a must is beginning to fade, and people are starting to figure out what they really need to do to utilize these channels."

Wang added, "Businesses are looking at emerging technologies, and they are trying to stuff them into existing frameworks, processes, and technologies, and really it's just another channel and just another technology."

Wang encouraged companies to apply social media best practices to traditional forms of marketing. "Even with conversation and listening to customers, it still doesn't change the fact that if you read a company's mission statement or vision statement on the company's Web site, it doesn't speak at all to a human being," he said. …