If you're running a business - whether large or small - you've no doubt had discussions about your company's Facebook strategy or Twitter presence. More importantly, you've probably wondered how an investment in Facebook or Twitter can lead to things like healthier bottom lines, greater brand equity and, of course, more customers.
San Francisco-based Get Satisfaction is developing the tools that companies can use to build communities within their social network accounts, tools that not only open the lines of communication with customers but also provide the companies with some valuable data on what's working and what isn't.
Today, the company is announcing a social engagement hub for Facebook fan pages, a add-on tab that allows companies to build communities around the comments posted to the fan page wall. Think of it like the forums of a Facebook fan page - a place where comments can be filtered into categories such as Report a Problem, Make a Suggestion or Ask a Question.
CEO Wendy Lea likes to call it a window in the wall. Until now, most of the postings on a Facebook wall just sort of disappear, falling further and further down a long list of comments that get buried by new ones. Her company's tools sort of convert the data into analytics that a company can use to make changes that will improve the business.
Why have a fan page, she asks, if you're just going to broadcast from it? This can be a conversational platform, she said, one that allows businesses "a window into what consumers are feeling and thinking, what they want and what they don't."
The number of people who are on social networks is growing rapidly and many of them are engaging with companies - complaining about service, asking for new features and so on. Comcast, for example, has been active on Twitter, replying immediately to customers concerns and even relaying information about service outages before technicians even learn about them.
That's the power of the crowd, Lea said. And companies that recognize how to tap into it will get more out of social networking than those who simply build a fan page and then forget about it.