There are a nearly endless number of statistics around social media – over 70% of online adults are registered Facebook users, two users sign up for LinkedIn every second, and so on, but how does this directly impact you and your business, and why should you implement social media at a tactical level?
Here are some of the ways that organizations benefit and use social media for business.
As early as 2009, Dell was reporting $6.5 million directly attributed to Twitter, at a time when Twitter had many fewer users than they do currently. Other research suggests that social salespeople outperform non-social counterparts 78% of the time.
Part of this is because more and more of the sales cycle is complete by the time your sales department is even aware of there being a prospect – as much as 2/3 of the sales cycle is the customer doing independent research.
Think about an individual shopping for a case for his iPhone. Is he likely to call retailers and manufacturers and ask for product sheets to make a decision? Not likely. He might browse websites for information, but is most likely to ask friends about their phone cases and which are the most durable.
Even in B2B sales, customers are likely to read product sheets, white papers and websites looking for product information before they contact your sales people. Thus, companies need to have robust content marketing processes and a presence on social media will be best poised for the customer of today and into the future.
2. Customer Service
Over 60% of social media users have complained about a brand on social media, and of them a majority expect a response. Other research shows that customers are expecting responses more quickly than ever before, and companies responsive to complaints on social media will not only be able to support customers more quickly, but often more economically as well.
In 2010, Comcast helped around 150,000 people through their Twitter account, @ComcastCares. They even found complaints using brand terms, but not directly @-mentioning them by name. Comcast was notorious for having poor customer service through traditional channels, especially via phone.
The average customer service call costs the company about $1 per minute – or $7-$10 per call in staff time, technology and other costs. By using a social media based customer service approach, companies are able to divert costs from their call centers, giving customer service reps the ability to work with multiple requests simultaneously, and provide customer service in a way that is much more natural for today’s customers.
3. Research and Development
An old boss of mine, Mark Stouse, used to describe Twitter as an “always-on, 24/7, instant focus group,” that is to say that at any moment, companies can gauge sentiment and feedback on specific products, marketing campaigns, or the company as a whole.
Not only can you see what users are saying about your products but you can see what they’re saying about your competitors’ products as well. What features do users utilize that your products don’t offer? What features are offered by competitors that aren’t used, or that don’t work well.
Or, consider the marketplace before you introduce a new product. Are people unhappy with current offerings, or are there much needed features in a new product? Social media offers a quick way to gauge product needs for customers both for your company as well as for competitors.
More than ever before, employees are sharing their working life through social media. Whether it’s the great free coffee options, workout facility, nap pods a la Google, employees’ work-life sharing plays a huge part in sharing the company culture. Great facilities and surroundings are just one of the ways that your company might be able to beat competitors for talent.
Even more so, friends and connections of employees are the most likely to be familiar with the company, apply for jobs and become employees. By creating easily sharable job descriptions and using platforms like LinkedIn, it can be much easier to publicize openings than previously.
5. Investor Relations
Yes, even the traditionally conservative folks in the financial industry have even embraced social media. In 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission authorized companies to use social media as an official channel for material disclosures in accordance with SEC regulations.
Even though financial services has traditionally been slow to adapt, this move has shown that even the US federal government recognizes that investment bankers are likely to use social media in the future.
So there you have it. Five ways to use social media for business, from departments across most areas of the company.
Eric T. Tung is a full-time social media manager at BMC Software, a contributor for Social Media College, and was ranked by Forbes as the #33 social media professional in 2014. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.