Social media is hard to avoid these days. Some people love it, others despise its constant presence, but one things for sure: it is here to stay. Yet, can a business really use it to improve their collection process? Yes, If used correctly, It can be a valuable tool when accessing the health of business and for finding more up to date information.
Accessing the health of a Customer’s Business
While this is in no way a foolproof method for finding out how a business is doing, social media activity can indicate the health of a business who may be past due on their accounts. What type of pictures are they posting? Are they posting about upcoming events or shows? If an account is not responding, are their social media accounts still active? If they happen to be posting pictures that indicate their business is doing well (new capital investments, happy customers, expansion, etc.) and are hosting a large number of events or shows, you may able to glean that they have the capacity to pay. On the other hand, if their social media pages are barren and filled with complaints, you may have a harder time collecting on the debt.
It is important to note that you should refrain from actively engaging on their pages while collecting this information. It will do neither your company of theirs any good to post anything regarding the outstanding debt. Any contact could easily be seen as harassment and should be avoided.
Social media accounts are often great sources of up to date contact information for businesses. Many accounts will list addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and possibly specific employee contact information.
As with before though, this should not be the only place you look for this information. Free online sources like Manta, Blackbook, Corporation Wiki, and many others can offer this information as well. Social Media accounts will also rarely provide the level of information that paid services like Accurint offer.
Looking towards the future
Social Media accounts can aid not only in current collection accounts, but also in future assessment and risk analysis. The same method that was used above to assess the health of a business that is under collection can be used to see what business may pose a risk in the future. You may check on a customers page and see that the number of events they are going to is declining or that the amount of negative complaints is on the rise. On the other hand, you could see positive posts increasing as well. While these indicators can not predict future success or failure, when your bottom line is in question, all information should be considered.
What platforms are the most valuable?
While their are countless social media platforms, three major ones stand out from the rest, in terms of business use. Facebook has nearly 60 million business pages on its site. Odds are if the business you are dealing with sells any sort of product or service, they will be on Facebook. If the business you are dealing with sells a consumer product, Instagram is a great way to see the type of visual content they are posting. Last but not least, there is LinkedIn. This is a great place to see the image a business is projecting to the rest of the professional world.
As more and more businesses create social media accounts, it is becoming a more and more valuable tool when collecting debt. It should never be the only tool you use though. It should work with more traditional collecting tools, not replace them.