KPMG has created an alliance with social media advisory company SR7 to allow the consulting firm to bring expertise on social media to its client base.
The alliance was formed in response to a growing use of social media in the market and consumers voicing their satisfaction and dissatisfaction about companies on social media networks.
The alliance will aim to help clients better understand their social media footprint to implement strategies to protect their brand against negative sentiment and also to help develop it.
“Social media has become, not surprisingly, one of the hottest topics in the corporate world over the last 12 months and the first question that we always ask any of our clients … [is] do you know what’s actually being said about your brands and the power that is having?” Malcolm Alder, KPMG’s digital economy leader, told Computerworld Australia.
“If they don’t, the first step that we recommend is that they do start listening. To do that you obviously need a social media monitoring capability.”
KPMG calls it ‘social media intelligence’ when companies respond to customer feedback on social media networks. Social media intelligence also allows companies to test new products and bring them to market earlier.
A recent KPMG research report found 75 per cent of Australians are now active in social media and Australia has the highest rate of social media consumption per capita in the world.
However, Alder said even though some companies are using social media use for business purposes, it is still the “early dawn” of most social media networks and even advanced users would still be on a learning curve.
Some of the issues companies face when adopting social media intelligence, he said is for “internal turf wars” to occur in companies over who ‘owns’ social media, with communications staff often wanting to retain ownership of it.
However, he said it is often better controlled by operational staff who are at the coalface.
“If you think of any business that’s got some sort of outage in its service for whatever reason, it’s actually the people who sit in the control centre, if there is such a thing, who have the best information and are actually best placed to be the people providing the messaging around that,” he said.
“Sometimes where we’ve seen things fall down is when there’s an internal disconnect between the people who have the actual information – operational information – and those people in the corporate area who want to be able to put out a positive message as quickly as they can.
“You need to be balancing that against what is currently accurate as being experienced by customers.”
While some corporations have used social media for marketing purposes, particularly in b-to-c businesses, according to Alder, this is quickly followed by using social media to address reputational risk “that can be posed to your organisation by social media when somebody complains and now has a much bigger voice than they ever would’ve previously”.
Where social media for business becomes more interesting is when these complaints turn to positive sentiment. Alder said this allows companies to use social media through crowd sourcing to use consumers collaboratively in the research and development of new products.
“I think there’s little doubt that organisations of all types are now starting to understand the power that social media can have in a whole range of debates that go on in the community,” Alder said.
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