Social Media for Business
Businesses use social media as a public relations tool to connect with customers. Social media allows businesses to receive various types of feedback. Feedback can be simple interactions with customers to build (or break) relationships, promotions, or it can be in-depth data collection.
Social media expands a company’s reach, especially if it’s a smaller business. Many companies use social media as a platform for events, promotions, surveys and more. A lot of Facebook’s funding comes from advertisements paid for by companies seeking more likes and re-tweets. Funding also comes from purchasing data.
A lot of users don’t realize that businesses collect and use data gathered from their Facebook profiles. Most of this data is based I algorithms and employees aren’t actually snooping profiles, but it does raise concerns of privacy. They also measure numerous aspects without being invasive: Likes per week, number of re-tweets and shares, general attitudes of comments and more. Many promotions are used as a way to convince users to opt-in demographics without snooping. Social media also plays a big role in customer relationship management.
Since many companies have shifted from small-town businesses to corporate giants over the last 150 years, they lost the personal touch of mom and pop general stores. Now, companies have a big opportunity to connect and re-connect with customers in the 21st century. Customers and the general public can post their feelings about a company, products, customer service and even feelings about a PR campaign. Social media specialist(s) can respond to this feedback with gratitude or try to find a way to make it right with disgruntled consumers. Since many companies no longer interact face-to-face with consumers, this is a great way to break down standardized interactions with customer service representatives. Interactions on social media can translate to changing sales figures.
When Staples barred a gun store from entering in an office supplies contest, people rushed to the Facebook page to announce a boycott. Staples quickly announced a concession on its position in an effort to calm users. It was too late its position. I think this two-way relationship function can be far more valuable than data collection. Companies should invest in competent social media gurus or specialists to avoid late responses or untrained responses.
A lot of sites and bloggers have guides for getting started, but some businesses have found it easier to higher social media specialists to take care of it. Some universities even have degree programs for social media, but businesses could opt to hire any millennial instead making these degrees somewhat pointless. I bet younger college students could likely teach their social media teachers a thing or two. Either way, businesses can either get involved or remain in the past. Social media is here to stay, though it will change over the years with new generations of people and technology.
Changes are being made right now. More countries are building infrastructure and catching up with the Western world. Companies are globalizing and learning to interact with freer cultures where feedback can get ugly. The re-entry of Chinese onto Facebook will prove interesting for residents and companies based in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. More on this soon.
I think that any business seeking to survive into the 21st century must learn to use social media. Millennial are watching less TV and using more internet. We are constantly flooded with advertisements and need more clever engagement. We have been trained to recognize ads and ignore them. Companies need to build a relationship with Generation Y, seek our approval and ask for our feedback.