Last week I had a terrible experience with a cable television service. They didn’t show up for the installation appointment, and were unable to set up a new appointment when I called to reschedule. So like any curious marketer would do, I tweeted about it just to see what kind of response I would get. The response I got surprised me.
Within minutes a satellite television service (a top competitor) responded and asked if I wanted to learn more about their “Twitter deal.” Impressive. Hours and days later, three different customer service reps from the cable provider responded, asking me to send my contact information so they could help me further. Nice gestures, but a much slower response than the competition. This situation got me thinking about how social media has really become a part of doing business and isn’t just a marketing tool anymore. In my case, social media was being used as a prospecting/sales and a customer service tool. I’ve seen it used by other business divisions as well — HR/recruiting, research and development, investor relations, internal communications, customer service, employee education, and more.
As an avid user and huge fan of social media, I am excited to see that brands and businesses are effectively using it for more than just marketing purposes. It’s nice to see that powerful tools like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. are becoming integrated into business processes and being embraced by non-marketers.
As thought-starters for your business, here are seven ideas for how your organization can pretty quickly and easily use social media in a different way:
1. Screen job candidates by asking them to Tweet to you (in 140 characters or less) about why they should get the job.
2. Create a private Facebook Group (or Pinterest Board) so your internal team can easily share ideas and relevant content with each other.
3. Post videos on YouTube to show customers how to assemble or trouble-shoot your product.
4. Follow your competitors on social media so you can spy on them.
5. Use Instagram to post photos and videos that show alternate (maybe unexpected) uses for your product.
6. Post on Facebook a problem with which your business is struggling and ask your “Likes” to help you solve it.
7. Create an entertaining series of Vine videos to train your employees on how to properly address common customer concerns.
I challenge you and your company to think about how social media can solve an existing business problem. Think about it for a few weeks. Run it by colleagues that aren’t in the marketing department. Talk to your boss about it. I bet you’ll find a new (and probably better) way to do something by using a platform that many still say is only used to show what you had for dinner or what silly thing your kid is up to now.
Emily K. Howard, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.