I’m still surprised that so many conversations I have about social media start with an explanation that businesses can use social media in many more ways than just having a Facebook page. That’s not to dismiss Facebook, for many businesses Facebook is a great starting point because so many people use Facebook and increasingly connect and interact with companies on it. But companies should also look at other areas where social media can benefit their business.
Aside from the obvious expansion to other social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram to promote themselves, businesses should look at how social media can be used in different ways to deliver other benefits or help them solve other business problems. Here are a few other ways that social media can be used by businesses:
Customer service – social media provides a really easy way for customers to ask questions, raise concerns and get answers quickly. There are many tools available to help businesses integrate social media into their existing customer service solutions and another great advantage is that social media potentially offers lower cost than traditional customer service channels such as call centres.
Sales – if you are a B2B business or the products you sell require difficult decisions or direct face to face sales then social media offers a way to start those sales conversations with prospects without the need to find them first in the real world. This can both increase the size of the pool of prospects you have and lower the cost of finding leads.
Consumer or market research – social media can be used as a way to find out what your customers like (or don’t like) about your products. This can be done by searching for conversations about your products or services or asking questions directly to customers. Businesses can also test ideas for new products using social media before wasting valuable development cost on features that customers don’t want or need.
Networking – for anyone in business social media offers an opportunity to network with peers in their industry and beyond. It can also be used by individuals to build their professional profile and to learn from others by starting and getting involved in conversations that are important to professionals in their field or industry. Businesses can also benefit by encouraging their staff to get involved in social media because this can enhance the company reputation and expertise in its industry.
These are just a few examples of how a business can use social media beyond the basics of a Facebook page. Any business that takes just one of the examples above and builds it into their current business plans is unlikely to regret it.