I've been reading a lot of articles just recently about the convergence of social media and business. Most shockingly was the research from Robert Half Technology that showed 54% of CIOs banned social media sites altogether from the workplace. Only 10% of the 1,400 CIOs interviewed said that their companies allow employees full access to social networks during work hours. Why does this shock me? Because these businesses are possibly missing out on the best thing since sliced bread - to grow your business using social media!
In my view businesses must learn to use social media within every aspect of the business. Having a strategy to grow your business using social media isn't just about setting up a Twitter account or a Company profile on LinkedIn. In fact over 50% of companies admit to not actually have a strategy for social media at all. To be successful, strategy to grow your business using social media should be integrated throughout every part of the organisation.
Here are some ideas to grow your business using social media:
- Marketing: It goes without saying that social media is a fantastic tool for building brand awareness. It's also a great place to establish a community with your customers - both existing and prospective (like the SAP SDN Community). It's the best way to listen to what is being said about your business and respond quickly. Social Media can also be integrated into marketing campaigns to provide extra promotion as well as into events so that virtual conversations can happen at the same time as the live event (see SAP SAPPHIRE Video).
- Communications: Gone are the days when a press release was the way you communicated your company news. Any large press conference these days will have several desks lined up for bloggers to write real-time. Publishing is now immediate. Your communications department should understand who the key online influencers are in your market, listen to them and include them in your PR strategy.
- Sales: Your sales teams should be using LinkedIn as a way to build relationships with customers and keep them up to date on company activities using "activity update" window. They can follow the company profiles aligned to their target accounts and learn more about prospective customers before picking up the phone. See my "Social Selling" post here.
- Human Resources: According to Jobvite, over 80% of employers will use social networks to recruit this year and just over 30% will spend less on traditional job advertising. Social Media is a great platform for finding, engaging and recruiting talent into your organisation. You can advertise new positions, communicate your employer brand and encourage employees to refer potential candidates through LinkedIn.
- Pre-sales: Typically pre-sales departments will be full of technology experts - it's the team that are drafted in to support the customer during the decision-making process. Their knowledge and expertise are invaluable so why not use that expertise online. Perhaps coaching them into blogging, participate in one of the online forums or LinkedIn Answers. Your customers and prospects are out there chatting to these these communities, asking questions and seeking opinions before they even enter the vendor sales cycle - make sure your business is present in those conversations.