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December 21, 2010 / Rebecca Foss

Social Media and Big Business

While some companies are jumping on board the social media train, others are still not convinced that this new medium is “important”.  Important or not, social media has caused a shift in consumer behavior.  As a result, companies will have to change the way they do business and relate to their customers. One of the greatest struggles is determining measurable success for social media.  While the jury is still out on that, what are some of the key factors to look at when determining why your company should go social…or stay social?

Making connections

In social media, the focus should be on making connections as opposed to selling a product.  Yes, I know– this goes against everything you have been doing up until now.  No call-to-action?  What’s the point?  Today, consumers who feel connected with a brand on a personal level will feel more comfortable doing business with a company.  Using social media tools and platforms to establish personal connections with consumers will be of added value in developing the brand and personality of the company.  So, it’s okay not to do a hard sell.  Just like you don’t want your friends to be pushy, consumers don’t want this new relationship with your brand to be pushy either.

Broadcasting

Using social media can broadcast small acts to a large degree.  Many companies do things very differently, but there is one common theme to all of it:  in a single moment, social media can be used to expose any company in a very positive or very negative light.  How to influence the word-of-mouth advertising and publicity that occurs in this space will become critical.  Social media allows instant communication, good or bad, from a consumer to the public about a company.  How a company chooses to monitor, respond, and act on this will determine its success.

Get Personal

Be a little less “corporate” and a little more personal.  Allow employees to express themselves in the social media space.  Establish concrete social media policies for employees and allow them to become your brand ambassadors.   This does not mean a company shouldn’t maintain a consistent (and more personal) voice.  Determine who owns social media.  In a perfect world, social media instills a collaborative approach and breaks down silos.  However, it is important to establish one authority that will have ownership of the space. The department or entity that is deemed the owner, should work with the rest of the company to ensure that a comprehensive representation of the company is reflected in the social media space.  At the same time, opening up and allowing employees more freedom in the space will show consumers that your company consists of real people just like them.

Engage on their terms

Consumers want to interact with companies on their chosen means of communication.  To engage with customers, it is not enough to simply have an email address and a customer service number any longer.  People want to interact with companies though Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social platforms.  Consumers will interact with companies on the platforms they are most comfortable in.  And knowing that a company is available on the social networks they are most comfortable in, will establish trust for that company.

Anything else to add?  Please let me know– I’m always looking for new insights.

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