Business Application of Social Media

August 3, 2010
By Mark

Social media is making strong inroads in the business world, but understanding how to leverage social media properly remains one of the greatest marketing challenges to overcome.

While there is no secret formula with which your business can benefit from social media, there are a number of facts that do point clearly at the increasing relevance of using social media to improve their business opportunities:

OK” – you may say now – “I am starting to understand the value of social media for my business, but what type of social media should my company use?

Linkedin and Facebook seem now the preferred venues for businessmen, while blogs are the most popular form of social media that organizations are starting to use.

Josh Gordon, marketing consultant , has prepared an extremely useful social media report providing interesting insight about the use and adoption of social media inside the business and corporate world and I wanted to pass this insight on to my readers. This and my next two posts will cover this interesting point of view:

The Coming Change In Social Media Business Applications:
Separating The Biz From The Buzz

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Introduction

A shift is coming in how organizations use social media

Companies have been using social media primarily as a general communications tool – mostly for public relations and marketing. That is about to change, as businesses discover its value as an essential tool for customer engagement – providing lead generation, immediate customer contact, and customer interaction.

Four factors are driving this trend.

  1. First, due to the rapid rise in the popularity of social media, the number of potential customers engaged on social media sites was previously underestimated by many organizations.
  2. Second, in the current economic downturn, where there are fewer customers in general, finding them and engaging them are much higher priorities.
  3. Third, there is now aMain Street” acceptance of social media as a powerful persuasive tool. Regardless of political affiliation, managers everywhere recently noticed that the largest and most successful social media campaign in history helped elect Barack Obama President of the United States.
  4. Finally, there has been a breakdown in traditional lead-generation programs. With more customer contact moving online, it is

Social media is getting a lot of media coverage, but all the attention does not necessarily make it easier to understand which functions are actually useful in business. This study was designed to provide managers with guidance in that area by measuring which social media tools are being used right now, and by whom.

A look at what other businesses are doing can offer perspective, as well as a benchmark for managers to compare their own organizations’ progress and opportunities.

In order for a benchmark to be useful, it must be specific and detailed. To that end, I have divided this survey into three parts.

As organizations look to the future, the same trend emerges as seen in the general social media and Twitter responses: a shift toward more customer communications and, in particular, toward prospecting.

Twitter and, more generally, social media deliver the ability to communicate immediately. As a customer contact tool, where speed does count, this immediacy has great potential. Problem is, such potential can only be fulfilled if you and your customers are using social media.

In many  markets, Twitter is not yet considered as an effective customer contact tool because of its specific microblogging structure and its limited audience compared to other social media (e.g. Facebook).

A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that Twitter users are highly involved with other social media. Findings show that 23% of social network users employed Twitter or a similar service, while only 4% who do not use social media have ever tweeted. Chances are then, if your customer base is already engaged in social media, many will be reachable using Twitter.

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