Social Media's Strength Isn't Just Socialising
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Social media gets a bad press when it comes to its use within office hours. Many brands only see its pitfalls, but there are plenty of business benefits too.
One of the great things about social networks is that they’re purpose built to make it easy to communicate and share information.
Using these tools to collaborate and work on projects or campaigns is simple and effective, with minimum setup required.
Depending on the network, it’s probably the case that many of the people involved will already have a presence whether active or not, and so initial acceptance rates will be quite high.
Little to no training will be required to use the platform, as employees will most likely already be familiar with its functionality.
Most social networks allow members to privately share not only conversations, but also files. This makes planning projects, proof-reading and asking for/offering feedback simple and quick.
Some of the specific collaborative benefits of the main networks include:
- Google+ – Hangouts (live video conference and file sharing), image optimised, connected to main Google Account for easy sync
- Facebook – Soon to offer a specific business account, optimised for discussion, high percentage of employees already using the network
- Pinterest – Clear and concise look and feel, image optimised, easily categorise discussions/projects/campaigns/presentation ideas, etc.
- Twitter – Encourages concise communication for quick reading, lots of information consumable quickly
Social media allows employees to work together in a socially optimised environment, often for free and whenever they want. There’s no longer a need to send an email to everyone involved and await individual responses before updating a communal document.
Online networks allow us to work collaboratively in real-time and remotely, as efficiently as if we were all in the same room.
Spreading the word and publicising the good work that you do as an employer has never been easier or more effective. It’s no longer the case that it’s enough to publish a periodic press release announcing an initiative currently underway within your offices.
This activity can now be done quickly – immediately – and not just by a single marketing department, but by every employee. News shared in this way travels a lot quicker, reaches a wider audience and carries more influence and trust.
The ability to not only write about, but also share images, presentations and video reinforcing your employer brand, has brought a whole new dimension to employer branding. Allowing access to the everyday lives of your employees, how the brand is run and what’s being worked on for future release, builds trust from consumers and talent alike, passive or not.
When searching for a new employer, most talent will look online and see what that brand is sharing and what others are saying about them on social media.
A good reputation and active social strategy will strengthen brands reputations and benefit it in these circumstances. A poor reputation or lack of insight into the business will damage your employer branding and talent attraction efforts.
It’s not just prospective employees that should be the focus of attention when it comes to employer branding, existing employee’s engagement can also be encouraged and nurtured through social media. Running competitions, initiatives and publicising employee events can all be very effectively promoted through any number of social platforms. Discussions regarding these and other items can be very easily accomplished, further building your brand as an engaged and proactive employer.
Many brands now use social media in a number of ways to connect with their customers. Allowing consumers more visibility, channels of communication and even a say in the businesses roadmap are all becoming more commonplace and part of a successful brand’s marketing arsenal.
Other areas used by brands include:
- Development feedback
- Product demonstrations
- Online meetings
- Online events
- Informal discussions
- Polls and questionnaires
- Market research
Having an active and responsive relationship with a brand naturally builds trust and loyalty, as well as increasing the chances of customers becoming brand advocates. If you’re engaged with your customers and taking notice of what they’re telling you, then not only will your business live long and prosper, but you’ll also benefit from free word-of-mouth advertising.
Tapping into your customer base for advice and feedback on the best direction to take your products or services is becoming more popular with many tech companies.
Taking product suggestions on board and using them as blueprints for future enhancements will ensure that you’re growing as a business as your customers do.
Social media allows you to set up and control this process, as well as proactively market the work you’re doing inline with what your consumers are telling you. Again, building trust and offering transparency will benefit you as a brand, as well as allowing your clients access to fundamental processes that govern what happens to the product that they’re paying you for.
Real-time support is now commonplace and an expected part of a brand’s standard offering. Consumers are no longer prepared or willing to wait 24 hours for a response from a support request, in many cases they’re not willing to wait 24 minutes!
When customers are able to get an answer immediately, they’re less likely to tell others about the problem and more likely to share the positive experience. Support can be offered on a number of platforms, but currently the most popular appears to be Twitter. This is probably due to the ‘snippet’ format of the network and being able to ask and respond to queries quickly and efficiently.
The flip-side of this is that should a customer be really unhappy, then they’ll not only share the problem with you as their provider, but also the rest of their followers, which could equate to hundreds of thousands of people.