Shifting Into High Gear with Social Media?
By Holly G.
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
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.
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.
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?
Read other articles and learn more about
Holly G. Green.
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