Social as a culture

I'd like to share a great piece I saw on BBC about how social media is changing the way brands deal with customer care. Here are some stats from a survey conducted by communications agency Fishburn Hedges and Echo Research:

Some 65% of those surveyed said they believed social media was a better way to communicate with companies than call centres.

And while half of people aged between 18 and 24 engaged with big brands in this way, the tactic was not restricted to young people.

Researchers found just over a quarter - 27% - of those surveyed aged 55 and above had contacted companies using social media.

For everyone who works with social media, this is not new. We often see complaints, questions, or pure rants, everything and anything a customer can do to grab a brand's attention. And why not? I'm sure you've gone through the stressing experience of contacting a call center (let alone solve the problem in a reasonable amount of time).

This gives me mixed feelings, even if it's a great example of how social media is profoundly changing the way brands think and act on a daily basis (specially through Twitter). Still, I can't help but wonder about the hard lessons one must learn to define a worthy path to a service of excellence.

In other words, it's great that social media helps brands better serve their customers, and I strongly recommend you read the whole article to see a couple of examples of good near real-time customer care. On another hand, I think the different (and nearly dichotomic) ways public and private matters are dealt with show some true nature to how we (still) do things in terms of providing overall value.

Social is not just a group of channels, it's a business culture. And culture can never depend on private, public, on or offline. It must be holistic.