The modern business world has changed so much over the last few years that sometimes it pays to take a moment out just to fully digest everything that has happened. When we do this, one of the factors that really stands out is the degree to which social media affects the way we do business.
Although social media has been with us for a few years, many businesses have yet to fully comprehend how it has changed the business landscape, while others have embraced all it has to offer. Whichever camp a business falls into, it is well worth their while to consider how social media is impacting their business and whether they can adapt to further harness all it has to offer.
- One of the key things to understand is that social media is not a passing fad. Any business that still believes this needs to take an urgent look at the environment in which they are operating. The affect of social media can be felt across many business areas and ignoring its potency can only leave a business at a disadvantage.
- Social Media has affected businesses at a core level. One of the most striking ways this has occurred is in the creating of a new level of dialogue between business and customers. This is a much more open dialogue that ever existed before and what is more, it is a much more transparent. It is no exaggeration to say that there has never been a time when a business could be so easily affected by consumer opinion than today.
- Businesses that fail to grasp this can be left open to serious reputation damage to the extent that reputation management strategies should place a significant proportion of focus on social media. The reason for this is simple: if a business offers poor service, those affected often do not complain to a company they complain about it. They do this using social media with the potential to reach hundreds of thousand or even millions of people.
- Marketing initiatives have been affected by social media to the same extent as reputation management. The old Mad Men-type world of advertising is definitely a thing of the past. Modern marketing campaigns must have a social media element. Look at the MINI car for a superb example of how a company utilizes Facebook, Twitter and other networks to reach an audience that is not consuming traditional media. Their advertising is innovative and interactive and uses social media to their own advantage. By doing so, brand recognition is enhances with a much greater level of market visibility that would have otherwise been achieved.
- The number of professionals who are now active on social media has significantly increased. The days are gone when the image of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter was of teenagers letting their friends know what they had for breakfast. Professionals now realize that they need to maintain a presence on the key social media sites (Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin). This is because social media sites have become vital networks for business communication and keeping in touch with connections. They also exert great influence on the decision making process and are therefore integral to business plan formation.
- Younger customers/clients are increasingly more likely to read blogs and/or follow Twitter accounts than they are to read more traditional media. This means that companies must maintain a presence on the key social media networks in order to ensure they are reaching all demographics.
- Social media is the quickest and easiest way to gather opinions from customers/potential customers and to react accordingly to market demand. This process also engenders increased customer loyalty as users feel part of the process, bot just end users.