The Virtual Exchange
The virtual hunt is on.
I typed in the name of the first company on my list. This big company’s website took a bit of time to load. Figures. The page contained a lot pictures and images. I browsed through their products and thought that I could get them to sponsor the snacks for our event. I clicked their “Contact Us” tab and saw a form. I typed in my name, e-mail address, and my inquiry. I hoped to hear from them soon. A day later, I received a reply from a customer care representative. He asked me to specify the kind of product (beverages, food products, etc) or the department that I wanted to ask the sponsorship from. For a few seconds, I stared dumbly at the screen and slowly asked myself, “may ganun? Sige, kayo na ang mayaman.”
So what did I learn from this experience?
Aside from making my and the company’s lives easier by specifying the kind of product I wanted from them, I appreciated the effort of the company to provide customer service. I sent the inquiry with the expectation that I would receive a reply days later or even receive none at all. I was just a simple student requesting a sponsorship from this big company who receives hundreds of inquiries per day. The prompt reply made me feel that the company really takes stock on its customers.
So what am I saying?
More than bridging geographical and logistical divides, the internet has been able to bring the customer and the company closer. Through company websites and even fan pages on Facebook, customers can easily reach big corporations. They can send in their inquiries and provide comments and feedback on products and services. On the other hand, companies have been able to extend their reach to more and more customers through the internet. They use the internet to provide information on products and services, to extend customer service, to gather feedback, and even to an extent, do market research.
The possibilities are endless for companies who have realized the full potential of the internet and new social media. They know that their websites, Facebook fan pages, and even Twitter accounts are extensions of their physical selves. How they look online and how they respond to netizens are as important as the way they greet their customers at the door.
These companies also realize that the internet and new social media have in a way, equalized their advertising efforts with the information and the opinions that netizens hold and share with one another. It’s not just about the company telling the audience how good their product is (but of course their product is good; it’s the best!). People are rating a product more and more from what their peers are saying about it. Thing is, companies should look at what netizens are saying about their products and services. Those product review forums are gold mines for points of improvement.
Another trend that I have been noticing these days are online CSR efforts. CSR ventures such as Modess with its Modess Angels and Dove with its Campaign for Real Beauty are very much alive through the internet. A Facebook fan page may look to be so simple a strategy, but the amount of hits and the amount of “Likes” are enough to show you how much the campaign has reached. That one Facebook fan page can bring awareness with just one click.
New social media also encourages small businesses to flourish. A lot of entrepreneurs found their niche on the web. Online stores are abundant on Multiply where owners display pictures of their products. I have friends who sell stuff on the web, and I too am among their customers. Some of the best finds are hidden away among these online ukay-ukay shops. And you don’t
even have to scour through Divisoria to get them. All it takes is one click or one tap on the touchpad.
If only the neighborhood sari-sari store has a Multiply site.
Bottom line is that the internet and consequently, new social media have not only changed the way we communicate, but they have also greatly affected businesses and companies. New social media have brought companies and customers closer and even levelled the field between big corporations and individuals.
Again, it’s all just about how to use new social media, or any other kind of media for that matter, to your advantage.