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BQ Magazine recently interviewed HEC professor Kristine de Valck, read below to find out her thoughts on social media marketing
1. Social Media is more than a communication channel. How can it be strategically leveraged? What do you believe are the benefits of using social media for business?
I identify four key strategies for leveraging social media. The first is communication, or rather, conversation with your audience (consumers, but also employees, suppliers, industry peers and experts, governments, etc.). The second is leveraging social media as a vehicle to get people talking on your behalf, i.e, creating word of mouth and recommending your company to others. The third strategy is care, i.e, using social media for immediate customer support as well as enhancing consumer experience. Finally, you can use social media for bonding with your customers after purchase, to build relationships that go beyond mere transactions.
2. What is the role of social media in a consumer’s purchase decision process?
Social media can play a crucial role throughout the consumer purchase process, from awareness (communication) through evaluation and preference (word of mouth), purchase and consumption (care) and post-purchase (customer relations).
3. Business establishments in Qatar using social media networks to reach their consumers is “still low” compared to those using their own website, a report by the Ministry of Transport and Communications suggests. What is your view?
Social media should be an add-on to all your other regular channels. On your own website you can provide detailed information about your products and company. You can also host online support forums or consumer communities. However, for consumers to access these resources they need to come to you – they need to know you. Social media can help meeting consumers where they are hanging out, and then entice them to come to you for more information, help and entertainment.
4. There are so many social networks out there how do I know which one to use? Which one is the leading social network for e-commerce in Qatar?
It really depends on your objective for using social media, the resources you have available to stay active and maintain a presence, as well looking at your target group and which platforms they are using. Some social networks are better for certain purposes, such as creating awareness and preference (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter). Other social networks are better maintaining relationships, such as care and bonding (e.g., Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, communities).
5. What do you think are common mistakes business owners make when building brand awareness on social media?
Not being knowledgeable about the platform on which you are active and treating social media platforms as if they were all equal. You need to think about these as different restaurants. You don’t behave similarly in a food court, McDonalds, a bistro and a five-star restaurant. Your behavior needs to be appropriate to the venue as well what you serve.
6. What are the potential problems with social media for businesses in Qatar?
Businesses have to embrace social media in today’s environment. It’s all about control your message, interacting with customers. As long as this is done within the cultural boundaries of any country in which you operate, there shouldn’t be a problem.
7. While social media allows a company to interact directly with customers in real time, it also gives those same customers a public platform to voice dissatisfaction. How to deal with this kind of issues?
Don’t ignore them, deal with them! If consumers have a reason to talk negatively about your company, then you have reason to fix what is wrong. Moreover, if you fix a problem in public it will reflect well on you and may convince other potential customers to do business with you.
8. How does the HEC Paris program “Marketing through Social Media” help to create and implement successful social media strategies to serve the needs of business in Qatar?
The program aims to give an overview of all the possibilities that social media has to offer to better understand, connect with, and accompany your customers. We’ll address the social media landscape and the different social media cultures, as well as go into the four key strategies. Participants will leave with a better understanding of how to use social media successfully.
9. How do you see use of social media for business evolving over the next 5 years in Qatar?
Considering the wide adoption of social media in Qatar for personal use, I expect that social media will be a fully integrated element of any business strategy!
Interview originally published in BQ Magazine, March 2017