For a Brand to truly have a relevant strategy they need to understand there really is just two key components for them, and then the platforms and technologies used are determined by their needs, goals, and budgets.
Every Brand needs to Observe. This has to be mandatory. There is so much data being generated that is publicly accessible in the Media, Twitter, Blogs, etc why not use it to your advantage.
1] Set up Google Alerts for you, your industry, your competitors.
2] Using various platforms you can collect data from the Twitter
3] Using high end platforms like Radian 6 or Vocus you can collect from all online media.
This enables you to keep up on industry developments, what your competitors are doing, and what your customers and potential customers are saying.
REACT REACT REACT!
Don't sit on this stuff. You can respond to quality issues, glean priorities for product improvements or even expanding into new markets (existing markets you are not in or creating new ones!).
The only issue is you need to be adept at understanding the data and what it means. I hate sentiment. I feel our current tools do a poor job of deciding what is positive, neutral, or negative. But you should be able to see patterns in the data.
Not every Brand has to participate via Social Media. Facebook Brand Pages, Twitter Accounts, Blogs etc are only of value if you commit to them. You can't just set them up and let them run. You have to go all in and dedicate resources and time to engaging with your customers and people interested in your Brand or Products.
- You can talk directly on these platforms with your customers.
- You can build brand loyalty.
- You can field simple customer service issues.
- You have easily reached touch points.
- You can publicly react when things go wrong quickly.
- You can have content and information spread on the web.
- I hate the word Viral. Nothing goes Viral. But even if your Fan and Follower base help expand your reach and awareness by 1% this way isn't it worth it?
You are easily reachable and accessible.
This is a double edged sword especially for Facebook and now G+
Upset customers can air their dirty laundry they have with you at length and in public on YOUR page. If Johnny blogs about your poor quality who will see it? Almost no one. But he comes to your page and then tells all your fans? Be prepared. Or like the new Fox News G+ page that got bombed by hundreds of people slamming them at once.
Notice the Pro's outweigh the Con's here. But the Con is a big one. Many large companies prefer people call for customer service or email just so that each person does not have a public platform like they do on a Facebook or G+ page. If you are a best in class Brand you can handle the random pissed person. But what if you are chronically experiencing problems with many upset people? Here is where my peers will disagree with me. You can spend money on employees to react via Social Media...or you can spend the money fixing your product or service quality problem. You be the judge.