How does social media help your business?

8 Apr

This month I was tasked with creating a proposal regarding social media for the company I work for, Park Place Publications.

I provided a rough outline of some things to consider like creating a company blog, consolidating some of the social media accounts so we can focus more on our bigger brands, and using tools like HootSuite to manage our accounts and track analytics. However, my boss wants some hard evidence that social media will (a) drive more people to our sites and (b) increase sales of the products we publish.

Well luckily, social media like Twitter and Facebook have provided me with a wealth of information regarding trends and stats about users and businesses. First, let’s talk about social media users.

The Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project released a study in October of last year called “Portrait of a Twitter User.” Granted the study is a few months old, but it provides some interesting details. The majority of social media users are women, more than 40 percent have some college education or a degree, and 39 percent have a four or more Internet connected devices. That’s a lot of connectivity.

Now, Twitter is just one social media site, but I think this study provides an overview of what types of users you can find on the web. Park Place publishes education law materials and tools for education administrators. That’s a pretty niche community; however, that’s the beauty of the web and social media. You can find a niche community for everything. It’s precisely the reason I recommended a company blog. We need to tap into that niche community so we can talk about our products because not many businesses cater to this population.

I recommended Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It! to my coworkers as a great resource for finding ways to capitalize on this niche community and understanding how social media tools can benefit the business. Vaynerchuk focuses on the fact that the greatest thing about social media is that it’s free, but it requires a time investment in order to see results. The more content you create and distribute to your followers, the more consumers you can get interested in your products. However, you also have interact with your followers. You have to build a community, then foster and nurture it to show that you care for their business.

So far, research has found this is true. A study released Chadwick, Martin and Bailey found that consumers on social media were more likely to recommend and buy from a business if they are a Facebook fan or follow the business on Twitter (thanks to Bazaarvoice for the excellent blog post on this study). It shows that the company is engaged and interested in their customer’s views on their products.

More importantly, I think for anyone in the media or publishing industry has to understand how to use social media to succeed in the future. Bob Stein, codirector for the Institute for the Future of the Book, said it best in an interview with Wired about the rise of the tablet.

Simply moving printed texts to tablets (as with the Kindle) will be of limited value. To succeed, publishers will have to embrace multimedia and community-building.

He uses the gaming industry as a prime example of people who have built “thriving communities” and understand multimedia experience.

A book is becoming a “place” where people congregate and converse.

Who more than educators need a place to congregate and converse about the issues they face everyday in the classroom? In many ways, we could provide that platform for discussion and idea generation. It would be an added service of value to our community.

What are your thoughts on using social media for your business? Is there something I could add to make for a more convincing case that you have come across? Let me know! Thoughts and comments are always appreciated.

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2 Responses to “How does social media help your business?”

  1. jaikil April 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    I use social media to help promote the magazine I work for and it has been a blessing. Full disclosure, we do get our share of negative comments on Facebook and confrontational responses to posts and interaction. But those are vastly outnumbered by the positive interaction we have with readers and supporters. And there really is ::so:: much that can be done online: YouTube channels, sharing files and information on Google Docs/Calendars/etc., creating a community of professionals on LinkedIn, giving staff members blogs where they can share their unique perspectives on day-to-day life in the office, and on and on. And many of these translate into offline interactions: TweetUps, promoting live events and even directing people to content in print. In short, I love this. And I love that you said “Granted, the study is a few months old…” because literature related to social media really is updated so very often that anything published in a previous year is already outdated. Glad I’m not writing research papers about this anymore!Jaime/@jaikil

  2. Maira Garcia April 9, 2010 at 1:24 am #

    These are all excellent points, Jaime. I didn’t mention some of the other sites and tools you talked about, which is something I’ll have to add to my presentation.

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