rules of engagementWe are well into the second decade of the “New Millenium”, and while customer service tenets remain the same in their essence, its delivery has changed a great deal.  Research has seen a remarkable change in the Rules of Engagement (ROE). So much so, that customers engaging with various firms using social media, are also being seen to spend up to 40% more than regular customers.

That is a large slice of the pie for all businesses that are intent on making profits (and why else be in business?) Expanding into new market places is an integral part of growth – in other words – making money. As a result of this, what is also being seen; is that customer service budgets for social media garnered sales, are also increasing in keeping with that consumer-base growth.

Social Media customers are not only demonstrating a larger financial commitment, they are far more deeply committed to brand loyalty. So, on an emotional level, there is also more depth in their commitment to these brand(s). However, there is also many more related risks for the business. The nature of the beast that is social media; means small mistakes can escalate out-of-hand fast.

Take for example a relatively recent fiasco when Mattel deleted posts to Habitats loose# on Facebook, and the slow response of Dell to images of an exploding laptop. These are prime examples of something going wrong. But today approximately 73% of all companies have at least three members of staff active on social media, promoting their products or services, and thereby – dealing with customers. They need to know how to respond fast.

Despite the fact that the social realm is a space which shows remarkable results by making use of highly flexible marketing strategies, firms are realising that snug internal control systems are highly desirable too. The fear of someone doing something “wrong” is a very real fear. Systems ensure that responsibilities are made clear, which prevents (hopefully), having to fight fire with fire.

Social media is a mega-force that a company can couple with to create cognizance, increase sales, enthuse brand loyalty, and much, much more. But from the very sentence used in conjunction with a firms’ identity, solid governance is required. It is a solid internal control system, and policies, that determines the ROE, and will help the firm, as well as its social media agents, succeed in this space.

Understanding the rules of engagement, means that social media teams need to be trained, and given guidance – these are pretty obvious fundamentals. The team requires integration regarding the brand, and a solid understanding of the strategy behind their function, so, a strategy must be in place first. By the way, a firm also needs to fully understand the whims of social media, before coming up with a strategy.

Errors in this space currently feature massively in the news. Someone is just waiting with baited-opposable thumbs to Tweet some-one else’s mistake. Tweeters (and others) get tons of pleasure out of trashing brands online! Many of the mistakes that make the news can be simply avoided with appropriate strategies. Appropriate strategies, together with a solid system of rules of engagement, will provide social media agents with a more astute understanding of the customs of this space.