The Emerging Social Enterprise: Catering to the Net Generation

The social revolution has officially arrived at corporate headquarters. Your company has Facebook and Twitter accounts, you’re schmoozing on LinkedIn, and your marketing department is uploading compelling content to your YouTube channel.

These practices, however, are de rigueur in the age of social media. If you want to stay competitive, you have to become a true Social Enterprise. That means leveraging your social networking channels to learn about and cater to the needs of a new breed of customer – the Net Generation.

First, let’s consider what defines a Social Enterprise. According to a recent paper by the Tapscott Group, social enterprises:

  1. Align employee social networking with business objectives
  2. Use social media as a platform for co-creation and collaboration
  3. Treat transparency as a top priority
  4. Enable real-time collaboration both within the enterprise and outside with customers and partners
  5. Listen to customers and take action based on their opinions and needs

The last point may well be the most important, because the customers we’re talking about belong to the Net Generation. They’re people who came of age using the Internet. They are considered “digital natives,” for whom social networking is an instinctive, natural, and highly informative practice.

As such, these well-informed consumers can cut through the noise that plagues us all in this age of data explosion. They subject products to intense scrutiny and research, deftly scouring customer reviews and ratings. They’re not afraid to share their opinions, and they expect to be taken seriously when they have a grievance.

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Pithy, informative Facebook posts about your latest and greatest product won’t cut it in this kind of climate. Only businesses that can respond quickly and accurately to the Net Generation can expect to reap the rewards of social media.

Social networking in a corporate environment should now be a listening exercise rather than a post-a-day marathon. Gather information about what your customers are saying – positive and negative – so you can accurately gauge sentiment and make the necessary interventions. Generating social media posts without this knowledge is akin to talking over top of your customers. The Net Generation expects a dialogue, not a lecture.

Simply put, what you have to say to the Net Generation is less important than what their peers have to say. Your customers don’t care what a press release says about a product – they only care what other customers say about your product. As such, it’s important to foster goodwill by publicizing favorable reviews and mitigating complaints. Answering questions transparently also goes a long way in gaining the Net Generation’s trust.

A diligent monitoring system can help your company thrive in these crowded public forums. For example, social chatter can reveal customer reaction to your new product, so you can tell if it’s a success or if it needs tweaking.

What’s more, marketers can respond to customers in real time on social media channels, providing assistance to frustrated customers or minimizing blowback from negative comments, as well as thanking posters for glowing reviews.

You can also check social platforms for a spike in posts about new products or events – so you’re aware of the need for more inventory or personnel well in advance. This ensures that consumers have the best possible experience both with your products and with your customer representatives.

The possibilities for success as a Social Enterprise are endless – as long as you listen to what the Net Generation is saying.

To learn more about the Net Generation and the Social Enterprise by download this white paper (login required).

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