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Social Business – 3 Ways Social Media Can go Beyond Marketing

February 3, 2012 · 15 comments

in Business, Social Media

How Social Is Your Business?Moving away from marketing

The arrival of social media as a communications channel for brands has generally been dominated as a way to publish marketing messages. While using social networks as a way to engage in conversations with customers has been a very successful approach, the truth is that social media can be used in many ways that go beyond external communications, and this is an area where a social media strategy can pay off.

The term “social business” can be a bit confusing, especially as it can also apply to businesses that operate ethically or with social responsibility. In a social media context, though, it refers to a business that has evolved its use of social media channels to become integral to how the business operates. Here are three areas of business that can be used to illustrate this:

1. Customer service

Best Buy is a great example of this, with their Twelpforce that empowers employees to assist with customer service issues or queries.

Being able to respond and react to customer issues quickly through social media can turn perceptions around – even if a customer service representative is unable to resolve an issue immediately, a customer feeling that their issue is being acknowledged and responded to in a timely way can prevent further upset.

2. Internal communication and collaboration

Social media used internally can offer a variety of benefits. Even in a small organisation, sharing documents and being able to edit them collaboratively can save the hassle and confusion of tracking various changes in email threads.

In larger organisations the potential to share can allow employees who may never deal with each other day to day, to understand their projects and areas of expertise. Sharing knowledge and skills in this way can amplify the talent available and allow for improved productivity.

Enterprise social networks will become increasingly normal, and emulate existing social networks in their look and feel – many existing recruits, and almost certainly the majority of future ones, will be familiar in how these systems work and how to interact on them, but in a secure environment.

3. Recruitment and employee retention

As I touched above, the workers of tomorrow and beyond will not only be familiar with how to use internal social networks, but be deciding where they want to work as a result of it. Sourcing talent through social channels already exists through networks such as LinkedIn, of course.

Businesses can go beyond this though, and use social channels like blogs to really show how their culture is. If a business is truly social, it should have employees that are proud to share and represent the company on social channels. Increased transparency may worry some, but ultimately this should encourage companies to listen to the concerns and suggestions of their employees. A responsive company will be able to save recruitment costs in two ways, and increased employee satisfaction can’t hurt productivity.

What this means for the future

As companies gain confidence in social media for marketing, it will be clear that they can use it for other communications. The ones that are already starting this transformation tend to be technologically based, with in-house expertise, but the trend is definitely there for the future and it’s never too soon to start thinking about how it can be integrated in your business.

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Jon is an Online Marketing Executive for FreshNetworks, a social business consultancy in London that specialises in strategic social media and social media management.

has written 1 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

Twitter: @freshnetworks | | Blog → FreshNetworks blog

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan Lew February 3, 2012 at 9:46 am

I do believe that social media can be a great help to online businesses. Aside from relying on doing SEO and building backlinks to gain you more traffic, social media is another great method that can give your website, blog or business even more exposure to the public.

Dan Lew
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the wicked noodle February 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Interesting points! I completely agree and I wish more companies would understand the power of social media for good customer service. So many issues could be resolved this way. I’ve had two experiences with this: once, an issue I had was resolved quickly and painlessly through Facebook. The second time, the company completely ignored my tweets which resulted in my followers (I think I had around 12,000 at the time) re-tweeting again and again…still with no response.
If the second company had only realized what the first company clearly already knew, those RT’s could have been positive, not the other way around.
Thanks for a great article.
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Jon Stokes February 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Thank you for the comments – wicked noodle: that must have been extremely frustrating – was the company still actively tweeting? I don’t want to make it out that follower numbers are everything, but I would think that any company on twitter should pay attention to somebody with 12k followers!

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Jayne Kopp February 4, 2012 at 7:26 am

Hi Jon, very nice read indeed.

I think being social is an excellent way of marketing your business along with other methods to be easily found online. The two offer a perfect blend.

When it comes to ‘network marketing’ being social and networking is a must… naturally to improve the marketing aspect!

I totally get what you’re saying too about companies empowering their employees. Thankfully more and more of them do allow staff to make their own decisions but you still find some that are rather hard nosed and haven’t gotten in the groove of the way things are done these days!

Best

Jayne
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Srinivas Reddy | Ask Sage February 4, 2012 at 10:37 am

Interesting perspective on social media, Jon. Indeed, socializing is far from a time-waster; it can be very profitable if you know how to go about it.

Let’s face it: we humans are social animals. We were designed to socialize with others. Businesses who know how to use social media will keep employees happier, help customers, improve communication and collaboration — all of which is good for the bottom line.
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Warren February 4, 2012 at 4:08 pm

One thing I’m seeing more and more on Social Media is companies, businesses, and individuals actively listening to see what people are saying about them and their brands, both good and bad, and then jumping in and responding in a positive fashion.
I know when I see it I sit up and take notice and think to myself “Wow, good on you!”.

It’s a good trend for businesses to get into.
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Tosin February 5, 2012 at 7:32 am

Hi Jon,

The impact of social media cannot be overflogged. Like one of my friends also said, we are social animals and when the entrepreneur/company start seeing people for what they are:humans, then you can be sure that there will be a paradigm shift.

Companies that take time to listen to people on social media have a big edge over those that just assume what they should want.

Thanks :)
Tosin
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viviana@attraction marketing February 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Interesting post to know that we can use social media for internal communication. I see that in facebook group. We can create closed group for internal communication.
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Jamella February 5, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Hi Jon,

I work for a large health care provider and I am noticing that they are getting involved in social business. At one point, Facebook wasn’t accessible from our work computers, but now it is, because they company wants employees to see what the company’s Facebook presence is like. I’ve heard that there are employees who spend their days monitoring and responding to posts on the company’s Facebook page. I imagine at some point, most if not all companies will have to get involved in social business.
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Stacy February 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Social media is clearly the way to go for businesses, it’s great to see that more and more types of businesses are taking advantage of it. It’s beneficial to both the customers and business alike and it’s only going to continue to improve with time!
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Ragnar Crowley February 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm

some good points here John,
Social media marketing is certainly here to stay. This can be a powerfully positive free marketing channel for companies that learn to leverage it effectively and it can also be one of the problems resulting in decline of business and possibly eventual failure for some. The new degree of transparency and the connection between us all across the planet thanks to the internet and many new social media platforms is powerful indeed. There in more degree of authenticity when there’s no place to hide. I for one, love it.
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David Merrill February 14, 2012 at 6:59 am

Integrating Social Media in business environments is definitely the future trend, both for online businesses and brick and mortars, and as you illustrate above… a combination of the two.

The Best Buy example is perfect to show how Social Media strategies can really enhance a brick and mortar.

And it almost goes without saying, that the same strategies are equally integral to online business and internet marketing.

Thanks for the nice overview of this trend.
David Merrill recently posted..Twitter Strategy To Drive TrafficMy Profile

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Jeffrey T. Sooey February 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

Good read! With the many advancements today in technology, social media has helped many businesses in their marketing efforts. Customer service is one aspect that has been greatly improved by this. Imagine, we are able to solve a problem with just a click of a button. Businesses are faced with the challenge to improve their social media efforts to be of service to their clients and to get their message across.Thanks Jon!

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Madison January 3, 2014 at 4:40 pm

I absolutely loved this piece of writing. Thanks a lot very informative article…
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