Are You Shifting Into High Gear with Social Media?

by Holly G Green

Are You Shifting Into High Gear with Social Media?Not only is our world moving faster and faster these days, it is also becoming more connected than ever. And it looks like the corporate world has finally gotten the message.

For the past few years, I have been talking to clients and keynote audiences about the importance of embracing social media as an additional communications channel; ideal for marketing, collaborating, and engaging with stakeholders internally and externally. While some companies have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon, many have resisted, for a variety of reasons. That appears to be changing.

According to Forrester Research, an independent research company that provides marketing, business and technology advice to business leaders, over the next five years social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34% – faster than any other form of online marketing, and double the average growth rate for all online mediums. Even more telling, during that time span business spending on mobile media marketing will increase three-fold, while spending on social media will increase more than four times.

What’s behind this sudden anticipated increase in business usage of social media?

Remember when the Internet first burst upon the scene and everyone proclaimed it as the greatest thing since sliced bread? Well, a lot of companies lost a lot of money trying to figure out how to use it effectively. It took nearly a decade for people to learn how to turn it from a novelty item into a highly effective business tool. Not just in terms of selling products online, but as a powerful communications tool the likes of which we had never seen before.

It took a while to understand that the real power of the Internet was its ability to make information ubiquitous. Once we learned how to use the Internet to put information in the hands of the people who need it any time, anywhere in the world, it revolutionized the way we conduct business.

Social media is now going through the same learning curve, only it’s happening much faster. Business leaders have figured out that there’s a lot more to social media than the ability to connect with people through Facebook or keep friends updated on our whereabouts via Twitter. We’re discovering how to use the multitude of channels and platforms to change the way we position our products and services in the marketplace and how to build beneficial relationships with prospects, customers, and other key stakeholders.

What have we learned so far? That social media has tremendous potential in three key areas:

Brand building and monitoring. Brand building used to be a one-way activity. With social media, it has become two-way. Customers are already talking about you and your products and services on social networking sites. Creating “official” social media channels allows you to participate in those conversations and have some control over how your brand is perceived by the market. It also allows you to monitor what the market is saying about your competitors and what they are doing. When you monitor consistently, you can gather valuable competitive intelligence and better understand emerging unmet customer needs.

Attracting traffic. Companies that depend on online searches for potential customers to find them are now using social media profiles to improve their rankings with search engines. Major search engines like Google and Bing incorporate information from blogs and social networking sites into their process for ranking web sites. Social media bookmarking tools like Reddit and Digg enable you to generate traffic by posting blogs and linking and/or responding to blogs and articles. Videos posted on YouTube, the world’s second largest search engine, and similar sites can also be optimized for search engine indexing. Today, if you don’t show up in a search, you don’t exist.

Finding new customers. Creating a company profile and posting blogs, articles, and other information about market trends and issues positions you as an expert in your industry. Regular updates about your business on your personal social media accounts can spark others to send business your way. But perhaps the best thing about social media is its ability to target very specific groups of prospects and customers and address their individual interests in a very personal way. People want to feel like they belong to something special. Social media allows you to build loyal followers and create a sense of community around your company and its products and services.

The initial learning curve has passed. Smart companies are no longer asking, “How can we use social media to increase business?” Instead they’re applying the lessons that have already been learned and are aggressively looking for ways to implement social media faster and better than their competitors.

If you have yet to embrace social media, the train is leaving the station. Will you be riding up front with the engineer, or will you get left behind on the platform?

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Holly G GreenHolly is the CEO of THE HUMAN FACTOR, Inc. (www.TheHumanFactor.biz) and is a highly sought after and acclaimed speaker, business consultant, and author. Her unique approach to creating strategic agility, helping others go slow to go fast, will change your thinking.

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  1. What a wonderful post and kudos for showing they are taking notice of this market now. Customer interaction is crucial and the human factor is huge. It can go well or it can go bad but it is how you do your strategising that can also bring your value

  2. Very good article, there are too many journalists out there who just don’t get social media yet. Something else I might add about social media is that it’s not just about being on offense and going after increased profits, it’s also about defense. Whether businesses like it or not, they’re being evaluated and talked about on the Internet. For example, if someone finds a roach in a P.F. Chang’s dish these days, that single customer could potentially shut down the entire national food chain if they utilized social media in the right manner.

    Therefore, being aware of social media regarding business is also necessary to keep the masses tamed regarding your brand image. These days, you aren’t what you say you are, you’re what the public says you are (just ask Toyota). In other words, the consumer is now in control of your business, and can promote you to riches or kill 20 years of work and reputation. Thus, in addition to potentially increasing profits, social media strategies for business are just flat out necessary to stay afloat in this new collaboratively-driven economy.

  3. Sober, intelligent, informed, most interesting article (translating from French, I read more fluently than I write).
    I think the topic is here resumed as it focuses on the essential. Excellent post.

  4. Indeed the lady is right! As founder of website for Upscale Food, Shops and Places, we update often to appeal to visitors and our services are to provide a boost for small business owners.
    Live and learn, everyday.

  5. Holly, awesome article!

    Over the last 2 months, I’ve finally got myself going on various platforms like twitter, linkedin, facebook, youtube and my blog. I decided to jump on the social media train so that I can have real conversations not just with the connections on social media networks, but also to be a reference for my traditional brick and mortar clients.

    The good part about getting involved with these various platforms is that it’s easy. The bonus is that very few people really know how to use them properly for business…myself included.

    The best thing about getting involved now is that I feel like I got in on the ground floor and learning this new & exciting business language will get easier the more I practice.

    Thanks again!

    Marc

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