From small businesses like the new “South of Beale” in South Main (where Elvis used to hang out) to big businesses like FedEx, companies around the world are listening to the social media “conversation” and executing appropriate strategies to join in, improve customer communications and loyalty as well as churn a profit (there’s the ROI plug). It’s important to remember that while the waves of social media are crashing all around us, businesses are in the game to make money, and, if social media channels help a business make money and/or secure brand integrity and loyalty, they will embrace it, nurture it, expand and invest in it. Many Fortune companies are using social media to boost sales, get the word out, motivate employees and retain loyal customers.
People ask me daily about social media and it has been fun as well as challenging to try and figure it out, but that’s the whole point— nobody has it all figured out although there are a lot of smart people out there blogging and discussing issues. The thing I personally like about social media is that nobody “owns” it and there’s something there for everyone. Since May, we’ve been hosting business and social media “conversations,” and as we’re mapping out our next one (you can find details on my website), we’re talking a lot about policies and corporate strategies—all important for any business. Another important element of social media is PR and media issues. What Twitter and You-Tube allow is immediate posting of news without a media “filter.” That, of course, creates all types of challenges but is also the exact reason companies should be paying attention and investing in social media strategies and policies. You cannot control the tides of social media, but you can control your corporate message and your strategy to tell your story—good or bad. You don’t have to look very far to find daily examples of how Twitter or You-Tube can impact a business in minutes. Recent stats report most businesses don’t use social media but plan to in 2010 (I have posted a lot of these articles on my Twitter page).
Here are some of the leading “Trends” of Social Media for this year (and I predict they will grow):
• Traditional Media and marketing has been revamped, replaced. Much of what we did to market and tell our stories within the last year has been crushed.
• Social Media corporate marketing budgets are on the rise.
• Retailers need to be savvy online; Customers researching and buying online. One word exemplifies this: Zappos (435 Zappos employees use Twitter!)
• The Recession is helping Social Media as a cost control alternative.
• News is 24/7 now, and customers won’t buy week old news.
• Well known bloggers and influencers on Twitter are getting every media message out.
• Lots of good applications and increasing technology tools like the iPhone will advance the Social Media cause.
I will tell you that if you feel overwhelmed or intimidated by social media, internet communications and all the applications that are out there, you should! Even for some of us practicing it daily, it is like nothing since the Industrial revolution. Use of the internet will continue to grow and smart companies are looking now at how they can plug into the dynamic—and fascinating tools out there to turn the tides of social media to their benefit.