Companies should 'embrace' social media

2012-07-26 16:50
Companies should not be afraid to embrace social media, an industry insider has said. (AP)

Companies should not be afraid to embrace social media, an industry insider has said. (AP)

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2012-07-26 13:09

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Cape Town - Companies should not be afraid to embrace social media tools, and manage the risk associated with an instant communication platform, an industry insider has said.

"There are some risks, but it's easy to over-play them," said Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann.

He said that companies should accept that mistakes will happen, but short damage can mitigated in the long term.

"The biggest risk is probably that somebody will accidentally publish something they shouldn't, which is unpleasant but not calamitous. A failed enterprise collaboration project, unlike a failed ERP [Enterprise resource planning] system implementation, isn't going to sink the whole company," said Mann.

Retailer Woolworths was mired in controversy in 2010 when the company withdrew five Christian magazines from its shelves and social media users bombard the company's Facebook page with objections.


The retailer subsequently went into damage control mode and promised to reinstate the magazines.

Mann said that the overall majority of companies have responded well to social media with about 20% viewing the platforms as a "triviality and a danger".

"Another 10% - 20% are in the real adoption phase where they're seeing how it can be used to drive transformation and get closer to customers, and the majority are reacting to demand and waiting to see where the real value lies," said who will be speaking on enterprise social media and collaboration tools at the annual Gartner Symposium Africa to be held in Cape Town in August.

A survey of 80 countries revealed that 55% of companies in SA are using platforms like Twitter to engage with customers.

"Online conversations are happening in every part of the world and our ability to capture them is critical to harness the potential of consumer awareness and brand power for a business," said Dr Corine van Erkom Schurink, analytics team lead at PBT, who evaluated the Regus survey.

A good reputation on social media can quickly be turned when the customer experience does not match the social network experience.


Stuart Anderson, a social media executive at FTI Consulting singled out Apple as a company that has fallen short of the reputation earned on social platforms.

"Every touch point you had with them emanated that fun technology beautiful interesting... it was an enabler; it really stepped beyond.

"Their products are still very good, but, especially in the UK, I don't think the shop experience as good as it used to be," he told News24.

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