Screen shot 2010 12 14 at 12.00.37 PM 300x248 1,000 percent increase in customer engagement? Samsung shows how social media is done.As the market for consumers continues to change, those companies that change with it are growing. Those who aren’t? Spinning wheels is the closest analogy that we can find. Here at The Next Web, we love to see when older, established companies make the transition to embrace social media. It’s not often that we’ll even see a Tweet or Facebook Share button on a Fortune 500 company’s site. What happens, then, when a company goes above and beyond to fully embrace social?

The USA division of South Korean company Samsung has done just that. By combining real, authentic conversation with a fully social homepage, the 72 year old company is showing that it understands social and knows exactly what to do with it.

Screen shot 2010 12 14 at 11.33.23 AM 1,000 percent increase in customer engagement? Samsung shows how social media is done.

The image above is the bottom half of the Samsung.com website that you will see if you’re in the US. On top of simply being a place to Tweet out your conversation with the world, the site also allows you to see Facebook product recommendations, Twitter conversations, upload your photos and videos and even post your own reviews of Samsung products.

The risk, of course, is that negative talk could flow into the Samsung site. There are privacy issues with which Samsung has had to contend and there’s the ever-present threat of Internet trolling. But Samsung has faced the tide well. If you look through the reviews and Facebook section, it’s not all wine and roses. There are real, not-always-friendly reviews in these sections. But what you also see is transparency from Samsung in how the company deals with customer issues directly and in full view of the public.

But Why?

We’re seeing companies get their start via social media every day. But it isn’t often that we see the pivot of an older company into the social sphere. I had a chance to talk with Esteban Contreras, the head of Social Media for Samsung, USA and he had some interesting answers to the questions. When asked why Samsung chose to dedicate the front page of its site to social, Contreras had this to say:

Our new site is more of a hub of content and conversations than a catalog. The initial results are exciting because engagement has gone up across the board and the feedback has been very positive. We believe this has and will continue to deepen Samsung’s consumer relationships.

Those initial results? They’re pretty impressive. The data, mapped out by the visualization team at JESS3, puts things into perspective:

 1,000 percent increase in customer engagement? Samsung shows how social media is done.

Interestingly, Samsung understands that it’s not finished yet. Though 1,000 percent increases of questions and 300 percent increases in sharing is important, what really matters is what will happen next. According to Contreras:

We’re confident that the customer-centric and socially-relevant foundation we’ve developed will allow us to evolve in ways we couldn’t have imagined before. Engaging directly with our customers and providing seamless and enjoyable experiences is extremely important to us and we will continue to make that a priority, not only with our website, but wherever people may be online and with our web-enabled products. It’s a very exciting time to be in digital marketing and we are very proud of where we are as a company.

Why It Works

Of course, any company can add Facebook and Twitter buttons, but that doesn’t mean that users will click them. The reason that it appears to work for Samsung is that the company is using social media by the methods that we, as consumers, want it to be used. The @SamsungTweets account on Twitter isn’t just a stream of PR pitches, it’s a real tool, being used for conversation. The homepage? The reviews are read by Samsung employees, comments are left by them and the company appears to really be learning from what the customers have to say.

From where we’re sitting, Samsung is a great case-in-point for how older, established companies can put social media to work. We’re impressed by what we’re seeing so far, and we’re excited to see what other companies do with their own strategies.