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What is Social Media?

Social media..

Whether you love it or prefer to ignore it, the fact is that people are using it. A lot of people.

Not only are they sharing pictures of their pets and tweeting about what they had for lunch, but they are also talking about which products and companies they “like” and do not like. The call center agent crowned with a headset sitting at a desktop terminal linked to the corporate network is increasingly moving over to make room for an online agent responding to tweets, one star ratings, and thumbs down.

Wikipedia, the ever-popular authority of all things modern, defines a contact center (we’ve already moved past call center) as a centralized office used for “.. collective handling of letters, faxes, live chat, and e-mails at one location..” Letters? Faxes?

When was the last time you wrote a letter to a company to complain? Or faxed a complaint into what probably felt like Nirvana?

This is 2012, after all. Let’s look at some numbers: Facebook (over 900 million active users, half of them logging on daily), Twitter (over 140 million active users), LinkedIn (over 160 million members), and Pinterest (12 million users and growing fast). The list goes on.

Every second million consumers around the globe are expressing their frustrations, problems, dislikes, and enthusiasm about companies and their products through social media.

The scary part for companies? Their @friends and #followers are listening to what they say.

And sometimes there are a lot of people listening. The complaint channel is no longer a private affair between one customer and a call center agent. Dirty company laundry is being aired very publicly.

Conversations about companies and their products, both good and bad, are going on in social networks whether the company is participating or not. And these companies are our customers.

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