Opening up to social networking
With growing competition and increasing churn rates, telecom services providers in the region are embracing social media to gain customer insights and bridge the loyalty gap. While many in the region are still trying to come to grips with their social strategy, I found Saudi Telecom Company’s experience an interesting case in point. So could this be the start of a social data revolution in the Middle East?
Consumers today are better informed, connected with new channels of information and it’s clear that forward-thinking telcos are turning to social networking sites to listen closely to what people are saying to improve service development.
Though companies are tapping into social networking to gauge customer feedback, many business are still grappling with it, trying to find the best way to engage with customers on these new platforms.
Here’s what a recent Bayt survey on corporate usage of social media in the Middle East found out. Based on the results, it appears that eight out of every ten respondents claim that the potential for social media to damage a company’s reputation is one of the biggest challenges to overcome, suggesting that proper education in the medium is essential for success.
Social media is viewed as a meansof boosting brand exposure, communicating and interacting with customers, promoting new initiatives, recruiting staff and maintaining an online presence. According to 47.5% of the Bayt.com poll takers, social media activity has been largely successful in driving traffic to their company’s website, with a further 38.2% claiming that they have been successful in converting fans into customers. That seems to be STC’s great story.
Saudi Telecom Company (STC) has been able to establish an interactive social media platform to meet the demands of its clients and enhance customer experience. Through its Twitter page, STC provides an interactive platform that enables its customers to express their opinions, exchange ideas and discuss the latest developments in the world of STC.
As a leader in the telecommunication industry, STC has certainly taken the lead by diving headlong into social media channels to meet the demands of its clients and provide them with exceptional internet and phone services.
Interactivity and empowerment
STC’s social strategy is not just about building a brand by fostering interactivity. It is more importantly the platform for the company to disseminate knowledge and enrich the consumers understanding of the cellular phone market, service offerings and community messages including various educational campaigns such as avoiding use of mobile phones while driving, quitting smoking, celebrating Earth Day, preparing for exams, and returning to school.
The strategy seems to have certainly paid off with recent statistics provided by Socialbakers reporting an increase of 86% in the viewer base on STC’s Facebook page, and an increase in the page’s popularity by about 52% in terms of “likes” during the period from December, 2011 till June, 2012.
Moreover, STC’s Facebook page was ranked in the global top 40 in terms of the level of interaction with its fans, beating in this regard its closest competitor by 22 ranks. STC’s twitter page was no less successful, making it to top 3 in this regard, and overshadowing its closest competitor by 3 ranks in the local market, and achieving an increase in the fan base by 58% in the last survey which was completed last month. These numbers are in comparison with statistics taken from the same period last year.
STC has also made impressive progress with its Youtube channel, through which it keeps its clients informed about the latest telecommunication technologies that it has to offer, and which conforms to the highest standards of craftsmanship. STC’s Youtube viewership was reportedly increased by about 71.4%, during the period from December 2011 until June 2012, compared with the same period from last year, overshadowing in this regard its closest competitor by 8 ranks in the kingdom’s telecommunication industry.
Making the leap into social business isn’t easy for any organization, especially telecom service providers. However, STC’s case is worth emulating for any that is looking to add social technologies to traditional marketing channels to monitor what their customers are saying and influence their views.
So could this be the start of a social data revolution in the Middle East? From the looks of it, we could say yes. With a regional giant like STC having transformed social data into measurable corporate value, we as an industry are probably just looking at the tip of the iceberg.
Even as GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK 2012 will feature companies like STC, the Digital Strategies focus will be about fostering companies to find ways to develop stronger bonds with their customers. Reaching that point may not be that quick yet, but it’s a good time to start.