Social Media in Business

SMIB on Friday offered some interesting pointers for companies making their first foray into the arena of social media for business. As always Neville Hobson was good value....

conversations-matter1SMIB on Friday offered some interesting pointers for companies making their first foray into the arena of social media marketing.

As always Neville Hobson was good value. He showed us an advert for a marketing role at Best Buy which stated “250 Twitter followers” as a desirable quality for the preferred candidate – giving evidence of the pervading influence of the medium. He also explained how the term “Social Business” is now emerging as a new media term, as opposed to something ethical or environmental.

So why are marketers turning to social media? Well, it’s more accountable (it can be monitored and measured). It involves direct contact with customers – so you learn about them, and they get to know you. Social media also works well in popular new mediums, such as video. It’s also fuelling customer expectations for personal recommendations and reviews – so if you’re not engaging on those terms you’re almost certainly losing customers. And, of course, apart from your time, it’s generally free. No other form of marketing can boast that.

As a result 34% of companies are engaging in social media marketing (Forrester Research) and certain industries are completely dominated by social media channels. In the tech industry, for example, most of the top news sources are blogs. Neville also pointed out that the 3rd fastest growing service online is still YouTube, asking the questions “Are you using it for marketing?”

I also found Katy Howell’s session interesting – as she explained how she takes a client from “trying” social media marketing, to actually benefiting from it. She highlighted the case of Primark – which has 178,000 friends on Facebook. Obviously that sounds fantastic… until you realise that they’ve never posted anything to these members. They’ve never actually communicated with them. Where’s the benefit of that?

Katy doesn’t stand for that nonsense. In the case of Baileys (the syrupy liqueur), a client of hers, her goal was to get people to drink it at times other than Christmas. First off she researched her target market, discovering (weirdly in my view) that some and like it hot and some like it cold. She then focused on identifying truly active and influential people – the ones who are prepared to DO something – inviting these groups to start exchanging hot and cold recipes. Now, the interesting thing was that lots of Baileys’ “followers” and “friends” actually dropped out, meaning their stats went down. But that didn’t matter, because the ones who DID something managed to increase sales dramatically enough to make everybody happy.

Other interesting points I picked up from the morning session included Eaon Pritchard’s comment that the average Amazon page has 16 different ways of providing or viewing peer-to-peer recommendations. He also provided the most excellent example of a small business using Twitter, in the form of @albionovens – a bakery in Shoreditch which tweets when its pastries are baked (I kid you not!). I also liked Eaon’s assertion that social media cannot work alone – to work properly it needs both offline interaction and to be adopted throughout an organisation.

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