Social networking is becoming more and more relevant in today's world, especially in the North Africa region. As evidenced by the impact that social media has had in fueling the Arab Spring, companies in that region, as well as other emerging markets, should embrace this new trend and place increasing focus on social media activities. In fact, they need to enter the 'social' era with a structured approach and best practices in their social media adoption.
Social media activity is growing exponentially in these regions, as new mobile and banking customers enter the market. This mostly young population communicates via social media, and companies, especially telecom and financial services, need to be prepared to meet their needs.
Telecommunication companies have reacted to the change in the region, but they have not used the full potential of social media. They have responded only by providing the gadgets, but the telcos are yet to leverage the use of social networking to generate revenues via the customer experience. Telecom companies and those in the banking sector can leverage social media by building advocacy or affinity through collaborative interactions.
As an example, the telecom and banking sectors can create clubs for high school or university students using the power of social media. Companies can talk to this group of people and know their interest/needs as a way to build loyalty in the vital early stages of their professional lifecycle.
Customers nowadays are not only intelligent, but also becoming more and more demanding. It's not about "I'll take what you give" anymore. It's about "provide what I need." It is a challenge for the firm, but we see that companies are adapting to new challenges. We see more and more customers purchasing smart phones not only because they have cash, but because they know the value of what they are paying for.
Many companies have already reaped significant benefits from incorporating social media into their strategy, by being able to effectively and efficiently build new and reinforce ongoing relationships with existing and potential customers. Marketing can use social media to drive brand awareness, deliver relevant information and generate new leads; Customer Support can leverage social channels to respond to inquiries and complaints, as well as solicit customer feedback; whereas Sales can utilize social media to support customer acquisition strategies.
Social media can also be instrumental in managing and protecting corporate reputations. Unhappy customers can reach out to thousands of online users through Facebook, Tweets and other social media channels and the adverse effect to company's reputation through such outbursts can be staggering if the appropriate remediating actions are not taken.
Companies need to have a comprehensive social media presence to provide the customers with an "always on" channel that is able to meet their sales and service needs. Pioneers in social media in North Africa will find that investing in this new channel will create not only brand awareness and social engagement with their targeted segments, but also to generate consistent uplift of revenue year after year.
About the author: Amine Jabali is a managing partner at Peppers & Rogers Group, based in Kuwait. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.