Renee Prejean-Motanky

BUSINESS APPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA OR…as a recent study by SocialMedia Today put it; “separating the Biz from the Buzz”

In Business Development, Communications, marketing, Social Media on July 3, 2009 at 3:12 am
My social Network on Flickr, Facebook, Twitter...
Image by luc legay via Flickr

The rapid rise in popularity of social media has been underestimated.  Companies have been using social media mostly as a general communication tool…primarily for public relations. But a shift is coming in how organizations use social media as businesses begin to discover the value of social media as an essential tool for generating leads and for keeping arms around customers through interaction with them.

In our current economic downturn where the customer pool is diminishing exponentially, finding customers and engaging with them have moved up the priority scale.  Social media is a powerful and persuasive tool.  What better example to cite than the recent election of the President of the United States?

There is, however, a glut of social media vehicles to choose from and all are getting lots of media coverage (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, My Space, etc.)  All are somewhat ubiquitous and I’d like to see demographic and psychographic data on users indicating the unique audience components to each service.  Each of them tout different features. That’s the researcher in me.  It’s not easy to understand which way to go or, for that matter, how to use them to advantage. 

For RPM Marketing, my company, it’s difficult to say that I get more value from one than the other, though. I’ve found that if you want to utilize social media successfully as a marketing tool to grow your business, then you have to use social media sites and tools in the same ways that your customers do, and for the same reasons. You also have to accept the community’s rules, you can’t make your own. Social media isn’t a one-way promotional channel, it’s a many-way interaction/communication channel. The key, as always, is Audience. You’ve got to know who you’re talking to.

I’ve been on LinkedIn for a while now and I’d say it’s where you go to network for business. It’s a great way to see who knows who so that you can leverage existing business relationships.

A couple of good ways to use LinkedIn as a tool are:
1. Answer Questions. The more substantive your answer is, the more likely folks will want to connect with you.
2. Ask Questions. By asking questions that generate a lot of responses you can identify “qualified prospects” in many arenas. It takes thought and creativity on the part of the asker.

I’m new to “tweeting,” (still making my observatons) and I can only offer initial impressions. On Twitter, the ability for an idea or thought or message to generate a huge following is fascinating. Since the emphasis on Twitter is brevity (A post can’t be longer than 140 characters) it’s important to learn the lingo—lots of abbreviations to become familiar with. Twitter is a world filled with sound bites that either capture your interest or not. I have found that it’s a great way to create a following, direct Web traffic, build brand recognition, and get feedback from all over the place.

I personally like Facebook and log into it every day, sometimes two or three times! I have found it extremely useful to keep in touch with and reconnect with my personal network. Creating an online profile to inform your personal network of what it is that you’re doing and/or creating “Groups” that you solicit your network to participate in can be a useful means of driving traffic and it can be a great publicity tool for a small business or for a specific business unit within a larger business provided that individual employees, NOT corporate officials are the ones posting.

I’m experimenting with Facebook now. Facebook traffic has been increasing steadily, currently taking the position as the ninth most popular domain in the U.S., accounting for 1% of all Internet visits —  Facebook has also moved the bar up…way up, with it’s integration of other software applications (at the user’s discretion) into its model!

A recent study conducted by Social Media Today 1. endeavors to provide guidance to managers regarding which  functions of social media are actually useful in business by measuring which vehicles are being used right now and by whom. The survey was conducted of its members and visitors who are actively involved professionally in social media.

A look at what other businesses are doing can offer valuable perspective.  To read the full white paper:  http://www.socialmediatoday.biz/separatingthebizfromthebuzz

 

 

1.     Social Media Today is an online community focused on issues in the social media world.

 

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