02/21/2013 (press release: emilie.legrand) // London, UK // Keredy Andrews

With social media playing an increasingly influential role in determining consumer actions and behaviour, it is more important than ever that brands have a clear social marketing strategy to maximise the opportunities presented and ultimately, provide tangible business results, says integrated PR, social media and SEO agency Punch Communications.

In-house social media teams and social media agencies must ensure activity delivers a return on investment, rather than just focus on the number of fans or followers they have achieved. Community support is an area where real savings can be made, as according to a study by Lithium, 63 per cent of consumers seek out help online from other consumers, and brands such as Hewlett Packard and Skype are reaping the rewards.

Hewlett Packard has saved over $50 million in customer support service since it launched a social support solution, while Skype’s community members help 3 million customers every month, solving 70 per cent of cases on first contact. Skype reported a 10 per cent reduction in their original support costs as well as an increase in customer satisfaction.

However, according to the same Lithium study only 19 per cent of brands acknowledge the potential for online community support and the rest would do well to heed these best practice case studies.

Philip Keightley, Account Director at Punch Communications, comments: ““With social media becoming an increasingly important part of the communications landscape, brands must plan long term strategies that deliver a return on investment rather than simply focussing on fan acquisition. One way brands can empower their customers to take up a more active role is through community management, which has the potential to deliver great customer satisfaction, greater brand advocacy and reduced support costs.

“Of course, launching a community management programme requires careful thought and planning, not least to ensure the correct and manageable levels of listening and response with the community is adhered to, but also ensuring the right teams are in place, be they customer services or sales teams for example. Further considerations include testing and implementing monitoring tools such as Social Engage or Radian 6 as well as developing clear reporting benchmarks and KPI’s to measure success and ensure optimum performance. However, once planned and implemented correctly, an optimised and strategic community management programme can help to substantially deliver return on investment within the social space”

Punch Communications is a PR, search and social media agency offering integrated services, setting itself aside from many other public relations consultants. For more information about the services Punch offers, or to find out how an integrated approach could help your business, visit www.punchcomms.com or call 01858 411 600.

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