What those smart companies are doing, says Denis Pombriant, a Social CRM analyst with Beagle Research Group LLC, is turning their social media efforts into two-way, real-time communications with their customers.
"We usually think of social media as an outbound-only tool," where companies only send their messages to consumers, he says. But that's a huge mistake to make today.
"Instead, what you need to do is listen" to customers via social media and hear their messages loudly and clearly, he says. "What's hard about direct mail and other older technologies out there is that were no good, inexpensive ways to capture the voice of the customer in the past. But with social media tools, if you listen, you can learn a lot about customer demand, biases and more."
To do that, enterprises that are building and growing their social media efforts need to also bring in great analytics tools to collect customer social media data, parse it and use it to grow their businesses even more, Pombriant says.
"Analytics, in my opinion, is the killer app for social media," he says. A Harvard Business School study last year found that by a two to one ratio, more organizations were using social media tools without incorporating analytics tools that could teach them what it all meant, he says.