Ninety-six percent of Gen Y has joined social networks. Nearly half of Internet users read a blog at least once a month. More than six in ten small businesses use social networks to answer customer questions.
With statistics like this, you can see why FedEx has utilized social media – blogs, Twitter, online video, and social networks – to speak with our audience. Social media allows a large company like FedEx to act like a small company – interacting with customers in a personal, immediate way.
As a member of the FedEx media relations team, I tweet and blog, help internal bloggers create and manage posts, and handle other elements of our social media activities. I’d like to share five key points we’ve learned about managing relationships through social media, because I think the lessons are applicable to companies of any size.
Social media expedites your ability to intelligently gather information.
Managing relationships effectively hinges on gathering information about feelings, perceptions, reactions and customer sentiments. Tweets, blogs, and social networks give you immediate access to focus groups in real time. A response to one of our blogs inspired the successful FedEx Office Free Resume Day this March, where we printed up to 25 resumes at no cost for job seekers.
In days past, you might go to a Chamber of Commerce mixer and stroll around listening for a pertinent conversation to join. Now you can join those ongoing conversations anytime with Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn. Social media provides an efficient and streamlined way to gather information intelligently and apply it quickly to your business.
Social media humanizes a company.
We’ve found consumers enjoy stories of events and activities taking place around our company, focusing on the FedEx team members involved. Many of our most popular social media activities are highly personal – like blogs about how ten FedEx drivers were finalists at the National Truck Driving Championships or about our efforts to rescue 500 dogs and cats from a Kentucky flood.
Social media is a way to personalize your brand and make it accessible to the world. A photographer’s online samples can really come alive with a blog explaining how she made a trio of young kids sit still and smile by singing a song. Simple things like that begin a dialogue, cultivating and deepening relationships.
Social media allows you to engage in in-depth conversations.
Social media is about sharing not selling. We try to provide information and resources that are of genuine value. Our FedEx Citizenship blog, for example, allows some of brightest minds at FedEx to provide their insights into how culture, people and policy affect global commerce. Around Mother’s Day, we invited mom bloggers to tell how our services connected their families. The goal of all this is to engage people in conversations, let influencers help tell our story, and introduce transparency into how, why, and what we do in the citizenship arena. This shows customers a more complete picture of FedEx as more than a delivery company, tying that “human element” back to what we do as a business. Participating in social media allows businesses to both inform and influence the conversations.
Social media uncovers opportunities fast.
Social media tools help businesses identify and realize business benefits of real – time conversation search, along with the opportunity for immediate and direct connectivity and response. Every day, I use a free application to automatically search Twitter for entries related to the FedEx business – as a result we’ve gained customers who were asking questions about how to ship products or who expressed frustration with the shipping experience. On one occasion, I saw such a tweet at 9 a.m., our salesman arranged to meet the customer at 11 a.m., and by 3 p.m. their packages were in our trucks heading to their destination. No way could that have happened so quickly without social media. I’m not in sales, but it helped to facilitate a dialogue with the sales organization to provide a positive customer experience.
Social media simply takes you back to basics
“Social media” can seem like a complex world of diverse and daunting technology. But the technology is fairly easy to learn if you spent some time with it. Social media is really just another channel to tell people about your business. If you read any of the top online influencers like Chris Brogan, Mack Collier or Dan Schwabel they all give insights on how to be “social” and personal online. They tackle many of the issues we have in face-to-face communication, but how to translate the learnings online. So ask yourself, is my goal to generate immediate leads or keep in touch with existing customers? Your answer inevitably suggests what type of social media channel to utilize – be it a short tweet, lengthy blog or online video. Or perhaps a mix of social and traditional media outreach to reinforce and compliment each other.
Social media takes work. But from the energy and focus has paid off by enabling stronger and deeper relationships. If you want to share some ideas, let me know -- I’m always ready to discuss, tweet and listen.
Matt Ceniceros is the FedEx Global Communications Manager of Media Relations. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/mattceni.
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