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supply chain strategyIn this day and age, if you want your company to succeed you have to cultivate a social media presence. It allows you to connect with your customers and keep them informed about what’s going on with your company, especially for the growing Millennial population. But what you might not know is that social media is good for more than just marketing. It can also be an important part of your supply chain strategy.

Here are 4 ways you can make your customers a part of the supply chain process by using social media:

1. Customer Feedback

Many websites have a Contact Us form allowing customers to give feedback. The button is usually hard to find and who knows where the information goes once it’s submitted? But social media makes feedback easy. Everyone knows how to use it, and if they want to reach your company, they can easily post on your wall, send you a tweet or message you. And often, the information they relay is directly related to the supply chain: brands you carry or don’t carry, items that should be in stock but aren’t, or a complaint that the materials in one product are inferior to the materials in a different one. All of this information is important to your supply chain strategy and should be used accordingly.

Want a quick tip? Try dedicating one social media platform to customer engagement and feedback. That way your customers know exactly where to go when they have something to say and you can quickly and easily manage the conversation.

2. Demand Prediction

One of the trickiest parts of supply chain management is predicting demand for a particular product. Underestimate demand, and you run out too quickly, resulting in a lot of frustrated customers. Overestimate it, and you end up paying for a lot of extra units that just sit in the back room collecting dust. But by announcing a particular product on Facebook and Twitter, you can gauge the response and use it as an indicator of customer demand. It can also provide you with customer insights to help you plan for future products.

3. Announcements and Updates

Is there something going on with your supply chain that your customers should know about? Are you overstocked on something and looking to get rid of it with a sale? Or did you change your raw materials and becoming more sustainable? Tell your customers on social media. It’s a great way of connecting with them and keeping them informed as to what’s going on while meeting your goals at the same time.

4. Damage Control

Sometimes things don’t go entirely according to plan. A product is defective or dangerous and needs to be recalled. Sure, it looks bad for your company, but without a social media presence, it can be a whole lot worse. First, social media helps you to build up brand loyalty so that when something like this happens, you can still have people in your corner. Second of all, it gives you a platform to monitor and address the conversation surrounding your brand, whether it’s good or bad.

If you’re socially silent when a disaster strikes the negative publicity can take over and spread as it’s the only conversation out there. But if you are active on social media before an emergency, you can respond to feedback, release statements, talk directly to disgruntled customers, and put out the fires as soon as they start.

Social media is a great branding and marketing tool, but if that’s all you’re using it for, then you’re missing its potential. Your customers are part of your supply chain, and by integrating social media into your supply chain strategy, it helps to make them an active part. This in turn gives you more power to provide them with what they need and keep the supply chain running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

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About Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.

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