Richard Branson - the importance of social media
- By Jack Preston -
- Sep 12, 2012
Richard Branson has this week talked of the importance of companies engaging with their customers via social media, calling on all companies to embrace the changes brought about by the rise of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook in his regular BusinessDay column.
“Many companies were very cautious and slow to start using social media, putting in place all sorts of guidelines for their employees about what could be said and how to use these channels. My team and I jumped in quickly and started to experiment - over the years we have always pushed each other to be innovative and approachable,” explained the Virgin Group founder.
“We soon found that these channels were an amazing tool for reaching our customers and the public. One of the first things we learnt was that our new social media accounts gave us a real-time view of how we could improve. Through customers’ comments, we started learning about issues with our products and services more quickly than ever before. In response, we set up systems so that a customer who has a question or a problem can get a quick answer from our team.
“Whether you are launching a start-up or leading an established company, you should start establishing your social media presence if you haven’t already.”
The approach adopted by both Branson and the Virgin companies has paid dividends, with over 2.4 million people choosing to follow @RichardBranson on Twitter, along with a further 250,000 on Facebook and 2.9 million on Google+. As well as this over half a million check Branson’s regularly updated blog each month, offering an exclusive insight into the workings of Virgin.
“We’ve been using our social media channels to spread the message that we are just as interested in making a difference as making a profit. I set up my first entrepreneurial venture, a magazine called Student, to protest against the Vietnam War, and in many ways, I use my social media accounts today for the same purpose - to comment on issues I feel strongly about, such as the pointless war on drugs and the cruel practice of shark finning. Many followers respond, donate or even volunteer.
“Whether you are launching a start-up or leading an established company, you should start establishing your social media presence if you haven’t already. The easiest way to start is often by setting up a help line, so that customers can ask questions about your product or service. Listen and respond thoughtfully, and you’ll be on your way.”
To find out more of Richard Branson's thoughts on social media, head over to BusinessDay.