The importance of social media for a corporation is a topic that is popping up more and more often. What kind of company needs to invest in their online presence? And if your company would benefit, how far should you go in terms of resources?
What Does Social Media Mean for a Company?
Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Quora – whatever means you are using, social media is about connections. Primarily, this means connecting your brand to your customers. As a byproduct, It also means connecting customers to other customers and generating brand conversation. Through these mediums, you can more effectively launch new products or promote existing ones, as well as reward customers for engaging with your company through promotions, discounts, giveaways, and simply by being accessible in terms of questions, comments and general feedback. An active and appropriate social media presence is an extension of your marketing efforts and can just as easily be detrimental as it is an enhancement.
Going forward, these services are reaching even further. Take ZenDesk, for example, a company that uses its "Twicket" system to convert tweets and Facebook posts into customer service tickets, in order to address common issues and answer customers' questions.
Does Your Company Need Social Media?
It's easy to just say that every company needs an online presence, but that isn't strictly true. Is it in your company's best interest to have at least a basic website with contact information and basic services? Absolutely. However, not every company will see enough return on investment (ROI) to justify pouring a ton of time or money into a complete social media profile. An environmental consulting firm that gets 100% of its clients from referrals or cold calling is not likely to overly benefit from an active Twitter account – does that mean they should not bother? Unfortunately, it really depends on the circumstances. If an employee of that firm is passionate about taking on the project, and there is potential for new clients to find your company through that medium, it may be worth it. It may not be worth it to bring on someone new specifically for that role.
Take a hard look at your company and your industry. Find out if your competitors are updating their social media profiles and more importantly, if doing so is helping their image and expansion. Are there tools these sites provide that could enhance your customer service (i.e. ZenDesk), or extend the services you already offer? Social media offers the chance for you to be informed about what your customers think of you, and what services or products they like and don't like. Meeting your customers in a space they already occupy brings you one step closer to all of that valuable information.
If you've determined that social media is an area you want to develop for your company, there are a lot of different tactics you can use to get started. Freelancers or marketing agencies offer the chance to bring in an expert (or a team of experts) to ensure that your message is consistent and appropriate for your audience. Hiring an in-office team member is also a great step; doing so means they will always be aware of your company goings-on without having to remember to notify an external team. If you're just getting started, consider un-handcuffing the staff you already have and letting those interested take on the project. Just remember, there will likely be a big difference in results between an inexperienced worker, who is fitting in social media around their existing duties, and an experienced social media professional. Be realistic about what you need and can afford, and don't be afraid to expand the role when needed.