Travel and hospitality are two industries that are setting the pace for beneficial applications of social media. The majority of the businesses within these industries have moved to the World Wide Web, so the transition to using social media was natural. Hotels are now filling their rooms and customers are able to find cheap car rentals and plane tickets with help from travel sites such as Hotwire and Expedia. However, hotel and travel companies are not only selling and marketing with their presence online. Companies are also able to use social media in order to serve and assist their customers, which is something that the consumer packaged goods industry lags behind in.
Southwest Airlines is known for having affordable flight fares and a sterling online reputation. Southwest has a vast online presence not only for marketing and sales but also for customer service. They do a large amount of their customer service through social media and especially Twitter. Southwest employs what they call a “chief Twitter officer” who monitors all tweets and mentions of their company in cyberspace and is responsible for dealing with them. Some online comments need an apology or an explanation and others need no response at all yet simply keep Southwest informed about their online reputation.

Southwest is just one company of the many in the travel industry that keeps their customers happy with their social media presence. Such assistance is customary in their industry but it is much less common in the consumer goods business. For instance, Proctor & Gamble, a CPG giant, still provides a telephone number and email contact for all customer service needs. While they do have various successful websites and social media outlets, they use these for instilling their brand and marketing their products. A troubled customer has to call an automated phone service to seek out help with their products. While Southwest and many other airline customers are just one tweet away from having their problems solved, patrons of companies like Proctor and Gamble and Unilever are only available through email and phone.

While plenty of businesses are advertising through social media, travel and hospitality companies are leading the way in assisting their customers. Through Twitter and other social media outlets, a company is able to be only a tweet away from a distressed customer at all times. Consumer goods can learn a thing or two from this and try to be more accessible. These days, being a good brand is more than just trying to sell your customers; you have to listen too.

Solutions Set, a marketing company that specializes in online presence, operates an excellent blog. In it, they suggest three ways that CPG companies can utilize social media more effectively. One of the main things they emphasize is that a company’s goal should be to integrate customer service with their social media. This is something that many CPG companies could work on.

-Pierce Gulley


~ by goodpackagedconsumers on October 22, 2012.