This day in age it has become increasingly important for businesses to harness social media. You don’t necessarily need a perpetual approach either, but at least give it a try and see where the outreach takes you.
It is also relatively effortless and economically feasible as well; it only requires time and dedication. Not to mention, the benefits overwhelmingly outweigh the time and energy that organizations must be prepared to devote towards the social ecosystem.
The social media environment is constantly evolving and changing as well. As this occurs, social media continues to become increasingly connected to business and the way in which it is conducted. Despite the juxtaposition of social media and social businesses, the phenomenon remains relatively new and wasn’t even part of the picture ten years ago. As a result, it can be challenging to decipher what is to come and where the world of social media is headed.
Regardless of the direction that social media may travel, I am intrigued by the possibility of what’s to come and where the trends will ultimately lead. However, even with excitement there comes a degree of obfuscation. One can never truly predict the course of time, and we will have to wait to see where the process goes next. Personally, I think that location-based networking services will continue to expand and increase the overall level of personal transparency. For example, Foursquare would be classified as a geographical social media network.
Moreover, if companies neglect to commence a social media strategy, they may be failing to connect with a niche portion of the population. This niche segment could potentially become customers, which may even help cultivate more customers, merely through word-of-mouth marketing.
All-in-all, I believe the benefits of social media are hard to decipher and classify. However, I wanted to showcase an assortment of ways that social networking can benefit companies of all sizes. Who knows, maybe you will experience the benefits first hand and create a tangible way of classifying your own social advantages.
The Three Benefits of Reaching Out — Socially and Strategically
1. Transparency — Companies now have the ability to be more open than ever and connect with customers in mere seconds. It can also function in a reverse manner, with individuals being able to communicate with companies online, aside from the barriers of an organizational hierarchy. For the most part, prospective customers want to feel as though companies have the utmost credibility and conduct business in an honest fashion. With this in mind, social media can be an avenue to accomplish this, by opening the gates of communication to any individual that would like to correspond directly with the company.
2. Awareness — Businesses can build an online identity, which hopefully generates more involvement from ordinary individuals. Social media can also be a primary avenue for news on events, contests and information that correlates the organizational mentality and overall mantra. This will allow companies to control the message and the fashion in which they convey themselves. Ideally companies want to present themselves in a professional manner, plus social media can help document the tech savvy nature of an organization, by showcasing their ability to utilize online avenues of expression.
3. Special deals and contests — Ann Taylor for example is using Foursquare in a recent effort to harness social media platforms. Their campaign specifically allows individuals that are mayors at specific locations in New York City, to receive 25% off of their total purchase. Depending on the successful of their campaign, they may even attempt to expand the approach to all stores nationwide. Not to mention, there are specific social media programs that will allow to trigger messages at specific times. By having the option to schedule a message, businesses can determine when they would like prospective customers to be made aware of certain information. This means that social media in a sense, is more tactical than ever.
Business can also establish credibility, integrity and a degree of trustworthiness, merely by interacting with a niche portion of the population on-line. Obviously it needs to be in a positive and helpful manner, which will help yield the results that companies are striving for. Nonetheless, a companies’ approach is generally dependant on their particular organizational mantra and overall goal structure.
All-in-all, businesses should consider commencing a social media strategy, if of course they haven’t already. The strategy doesn’t necessarily need to be perfected from the onslaught either. Through time and social participation, businesses can literally generate a social prescription for the company, which speaks from experience and contains a frame of reference for comparison.
This prescription will hopefully become a remedy for the company and involve a transformation, once businesses have an understanding of the landscape they are working with. Just remember, there isn’t necessarily an incorrect way to conduct social marketing – just give it a try and see what happens. There are no rules to abide by and the conditions are still relatively new.
Ryan Schoenefeld is a recent graduate from St. Cloud State University, in which he focused on public relations, graphic design, digital marketing and communication. Since graduation, he launched and analyzed a social media marketing campaign for M Squared Group, a results-driven marketing company in Minneapolis. He is currently a Web Content Specialist at Health Partners and recently commenced The Continuous Disquisition. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter and on LinkedIn .