Monday, 6 February 2012

Social Media, the New Face of Business?

Waseem Saddique explores the value of utilising social media as a tool for growing businesses.

Facebook and Twitter, arguably the two biggest names in social media at the moment and part of a growing trend that is sweeping across many businesses on a global scale at present. That trend is businesses using the power of social media in a battle to stay ahead of competitors.

Facebook and Twitter are just two of the social media ‘household’ names that have become real powerhouses in helping to drive businesses forward and they have truly found a home in the business world, helping companies to interact with customers on a totally different scale.

Waseem Saddique comments: “there are indeed a number of benefits to using social media for business purposes, here are a few to encourage you” -

Branding – Perhaps the most obvious reason for most businesses to make use of social media sites. It matters not that users may not engage directly with your brand, what’s important is that consumers will see your brand across a wide range of networks that they use. In terms of visual prominence, the more impressions that a consumer catches of your business, the possibility that they will remember your name in the future, is greatly increased. Regardless of what type of business you operate, brand awareness will always be a vital aspect of success in the business world.

Reputation Management – Managing the online reputation of your company across social media platforms is of paramount importance. After all, your brand and even your industry sector will undoubtedly be being talked about, whether you’re involved in the discussion or not. It’s always an advantage to know what your customers are saying about you. With social media it is usually a more brutally honest assessment of your company’s reputation. Social media also offers your company instant access to what’s being said and a platform to constructively respond before any serious damage can be done. Social media provides you with a neutral ground to develop a ‘company - customer’ relationship based on trust.

Customer Service and Feedback – Developing those foundations of trust highlighted above, leads nicely into utilising social media for customer service purposes and for feedback about your company.

Waseem Saddique says: “giving your customers the best possible service is vital to the survival of any business. Social media offers a fantastic opportunity to provide your customers with the support they need.”

Due to the level of interaction that a social media service provides, businesses are able to present themselves with more of a ‘face’ to their customers. Customers are often frustrated in the modern age by the lack of personal service, as calling a phone often results in automated responses and e-mails can be left unchecked for days on end or even ignored.
With social media there’s not really an excuse not to respond immediately to people and if you do it regularly enough, other consumers identify with you because you take the time to engage with your audience.

Lead Generation – Social media sites offer a worldwide ‘shop window’ for reaching new clients. To some degree, the potential for creating leads to develop your business is infinite when social media sites are used in the right way. You have instant access to what people are talking about in your industry sector, for example: What’s creating a buzz? What are people passionate about in your sector? In essence what you have is an insight into people’s lives. You know what a customer is thinking and a business can use this to their advantage because they can anticipate what customers want and act accordingly.

Competitor Analysis – On a final note, social media also provides a particular business with an insight into what their competitors are doing. The value of social media in this context is monumental. Keeping tabs on what competitors are doing could keep your business remain one-step ahead and could be the defining factor when it comes to success or failure as a company. Social media does provide a certain degree of transparency for businesses and sometimes they will often reveal more than they wanted to. This is perhaps something to be mindful of for your own business, don’t give too much away!

Waseem Saddique states: “In general the value of using social media to market your business certainly provides more positives than negatives. Social media platforms have revolutionised the way companies advertise themselves, how they interact with customers and how they respond to customer and competitor actions alike. Therefore, the remaining value in utilising social media platforms is that it is the future and they will change the way organisations conduct themselves and structure their image for years to come.”