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The social media mania

Phoebe Magdirila | May 30, 2013
Social media mania is having a huge impact on traditional business operations. Companies that are leveraging this trend are seeing significant benefits, including collaboration and data sharing, in ways they've not experienced before.

Marthyn Cuan, Chief Information Officer, Meralco, believes that "social media has been a gateway for faster and wider circulation of information."

He cites the instance of a typhoon where there were bouts of misinformation that took place. "We established our official Twitter to ensure our customers and the public remain properly informed so that they can take appropriate actions and preparations, especially for their safety," says Cuan.

Today, Meralco has established the digital media group—that consists of Corporate Communications, Marketing and Call Center—to manage their social media accounts.

"Over time, it has evolved from a one way channel for disseminating outages into furthering customer engagement - to find out what they are thinking and to share more about our products, services, energy conservation and safety tips, and other news worthy matters," he adds. "Issues and complaints are [also] entered in our ticketing system."

But before these operations occurred, for a large scale business such as Meralco, one concern when joining social media is that it would surely open the floodgates for customer complaints. Reasons why, apart from the dedicated team that answer all queries, they proactively "monitor and tracks all posts received and tags which have been and what remains to be responded to," says Cuan. This is with the "aim to reply in a timely manner and make sure we are able to follow through."

Meralco's Twitter account has already won a number of awards from both the Public Relations Society of the Philippines— where its Twitter account won excellence awards— and the International Association of Business Communicators, affirming the company's effectiveness in its social media initiative.

Is There A Price to Pay?
But as these businesses would also understand, making themselves available on social media has its risks. They open themselves to a huge population, awaiting feedbacks—good or bad. Not to mention other risks more crucial to the business' confidential information.

When businesses are out in the open, it's easy for just anyone to backlash with negative comments and get away with it while the business suffers. And both Cruz and Arias share this same sentiment: that their followers can easily post negative feedback on their pages. "Anybody and everybody can like a page and just post it there," says Arias.

Reasons why he ensures that he monitors and manages all posts and engagements in their social media accounts. "If there are, below the belt posts, I will remove at once," he notes.

And for Cruz, though she does not really consider it as a threat to the business, she usually personally handles them by sending them personal messages and knowing how to assist them.

But however harsh a feedback may look like, this is the easier side of the situation, as also, apart from the external factors such as the customers; internally, access can still be an issue. For Sesou Nature Source, "having access to social media affects productivity. We don't see a need for allowing any of our employees access to social media for now," says Cruz.


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