Dramatic figures released by IBM show that companies are replacing face-to-face contact with social media and interactive websites. There has been a whopping great 256% increase in use of social media by companies in the past year. And during that time, face-to-face contact has reduced by 13%. As companies do more online social interaction, so they are reducing the time taken out of the office for face-to-face contact.
At first sight this might seem highly sensible. After all, face-to-face contact requires two resources in short supply these days, time and money. Social networking activity can be much more productive and cost-effective. You can see why chief executives want their employees to use more social media than ever before.
But is it a wise move? A survey by Gallup might suggest otherwise. This study shows that what matters to a company’s bottom line is how well engaged they are with their customers. The more deeply you know them, the better, it seems. Indeed, your profits go up if you really, truly, deeply understand your customers.
And how are you going to do that using Twitter or Facebook? The fact is, social media can extend existing relationships and help create new ones, but to ensure those are engaging, lasting and deep relationships there is nothing to beat face-to-face contact.
The chances are, as companies move away from face-to-face contact they will see their costs fall, but will also see their profits fall as they generate less business because they don’t understand their customers as well as they did when they went to real meetings.
As your competitors take up the social media cudgels, you could look the other way and increase your face-to-face activity. It could bring you much better long-term results.