Social Enterprise

Effectively use social media for business applications

In this guest post, TR member robw2205 says it's possible to effectively use social media for business applications as long as you understand how the medium works and use it properly. Here's how.
This guest post was written by TR member robw2205.

It is no secret that technology has changed the way we do business. Companies are no longer limited to certain markets by virtue of geographic location; any size or type of business, whether it is brick and mortar or web-based, can become a player in the global marketplace. Technology advances and new trends develop at a rapid pace, allowing for new marketing opportunities and creating the ability to expand a company's web presence and customer base. The latest trend businesses are utilizing is the application of social media as a business and marketing tool.

Social media sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, have been around for a while and have been widely used by artists, writers, and musicians to promote their work. Companies are becoming aware that these sites can be used quite effectively for many business applications as well. A search of any social media site will come up with a profile listing for any type of product or service, from yoga instructors to moving companies. So, just how effective is social media when used for business applications?

The short answer to that question is: very effective, if you understand how the medium works and use it properly. The key to the effectiveness of using social media for business depends on your approach. Like any business plan, organization is essential for success. The same general rules of using social media apply to any other type of marketing and promotion:

  • Have a specific purpose in mind and narrow your focus to achieve that purpose.
  • Know your target market and streamline your approach to reach and serve that market.
  • Make sure that your content is relevant to the purpose that you are trying to achieve.
  • Diversify your efforts. Social media use should be integrated as a part of your overall marketing and business plan; it should not be your entire strategy.

It is also important to understand how social media sites work in order to use them effectively. Navigate around the sites, join various communities and discussion groups, and build a following. If you dive in and just start posting links and comments, you could easily end up driving prospects away instead of bringing them in.

Twitter functions in a slightly different way than other types of social media sites, but it can also be a very effective tool for business applications. You do not have to Tweet to Ashton Kutcher-like proportions, but once you build up a following of users who are interested in what you have to offer, it is a very good way to alert prospects to new web content, special promotions, and new products or services.

When used as a part of an overall business and marketing strategy, social media is an effective and cost-efficient tool to promote and develop your business, increase product or brand awareness, and communicate more effectively with your customer base. It is free, has the ability to reach a market of literally millions of potential customers, and has the additional advantage of being able to integrate other types of media, such as video, to increase awareness and web traffic.

Do you have a Facebook profile or a Twitter account? The smart business owner will answer both of those questions with, "Yes. I do."

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

7 comments
dfreeman
dfreeman

While I agree it's a no-brainer to use social media, I still think the responsibilities of the companies and the legal ramifications need to be understood better. Say someone does recommend a product or service that turns out to be harmful in some way; can they be sued. Social media is a bit different from having a chat in a bar. Or say a health company refuses a claim because they have researched some data on a social media site and believes the claim to be fraudulent; what data do they have to keep to back up their case. You cannot rely on the integrity of data in a social media site. Unfortunately we will probably only find the answers to these questions after few court cases as the technology is way ahead of the law makers.

robw2205
robw2205

This post was titled with the term "applications" instead of "marketing" for a very specific reason. Social media has the power to be applicable across several business subsets, not just marketing. Human resources, public relations, etc. Thanks for the feedback though!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Mis-titled article. Replace 'Applications' with 'Marketing'. The two aren't interchangeable; the second is a (very small) subset of the first.

eshams
eshams

It???s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it???s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections. A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming. This glut of information reminds me of the early 90???s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That???s when a better generation of search engines ??? at first the Yahoo! and then Google ??? entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine ??? most would have said no, we already have those???. Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 ??? Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product? I hope my awesomize.me can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It???s free! Elias CEO & Founder http://awesomize.me

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but marketing is the only one mentioned in the article, and it's mentioned repeatedly. Variants of the word 'market' are included eleven times. As Jaqui notes, the first post isn't spam but it does reinforce the focus on marketing, brand management, etc. Personally, I find the line between marketing and PR to be pretty thin, and HR to be the target of a job applicant's marketing of himself. However, I'm in tech support and not directly involved in those areas so there could be differentiating nuances I don't see. I await future articles discussing applications outside these apparently related fields.

Jaqui
Jaqui

down voted your post, I fixed it the "smartquotes" idiocy of ms office put all those ??? into it. while the post itself is marketing something, it's on topic so a down vote isn't appropriate.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

I know that there are similar sites out there that are doing the same thing, such as PeoplePond. We definitely appreciate the information.