Q

Integrating social media platforms into the business application mix

It's important for organizations to be cognizant of what is being said about it on various social media platforms.

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What surprises will enterprise architects run into when integrating social media platforms into the business application mix?

Chris MoyerChris Moyer

You may be surprised to find just how many ways you can integrate with social media platforms. Fortunately it is a very hot topic right now, so there is a lot of information about it available. There are some easy ways to integrate all aspects of social media with your applications.

Unfortunately, many social media companies provide their service to end users for free; yet, as a company, you are expected to pay to retrieve this information. This information, though, can be complete gold. It's easier than ever to find out exactly what your customers think about you.

While customers often won't respond to a survey or email, they might very likely Tweet, post to

Facebook or write about you on Google+. You may be able to find images of people using your product, or even find out how people are breaking things without asking them directly.

It can be very easy to integrate social media directly into your enterprise applications. While many times you cannot publish the actual interactions on the open Web, you can use this information internally and can usually make general statistics or aggregate information available (such as percent of happy customers). Services such as Gnip and DataSift provide easy access to content across multiple social media platforms -- for a price -- and are crucial to monitoring all available social media outlets.

Customer service becomes incredibly important when your clients have a powerful voice.

The best thing about using social media platforms to promote or even make e-commerce sales is how much interaction you can get with your customers directly. Unfortunately, that can also be a huge disadvantage, since not only do you have access to your customers, your customers have a connection to each other. If you do not keep absolutely on top of all issues, you'll be branded an uncaring company.

Customer service becomes incredibly important when your clients have a powerful voice. It's not like a traditional comment or review system, where you can have the negative comments taken down; information spread on social media platforms is often permanent. All you can hope to do is resolve any issues your customers might have and get a positive response back.

Before social media, it was nearly impossible to monitor what everyone thought about your company. Without monitoring social media platforms, though, you are still in the dark about what's going on between your users, only able to find out about unhappy customers when they are frustrated enough to contact your customer service department directly.

With social media platforms, you can monitor most interactions between your end users and other groups of people that are not directed at you but are simply about you. This allows you to act on feedback not previously at your disposal.

Finally, it is good to remember that people don't only complain on social media platforms; they often talk very highly of companies. Because of social media, there might be comments you can see -- about your product, perhaps -- that you would not have found out about before, such as "I'm so excited; I just got my new X."

About the author
Chris Moyer is author of the book Building Applications in the Cloud and creator of two Web frameworks, Marajo and botoweb. He currently lives in New York, where he helps developers migrate applications to the cloud.

Editor's note: This answer is excerpted from an interview with Chris Moyer conducted by Executive Editor Jan Stafford.

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This was first published in September 2013

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