How Big Businesses use Social Media
It’s no secret that social media is the next wave of innovation on the internet. Already the use of social media services has spread far beyond individual users to become one of the prominent methods of advertising for big businesses. How do these large corporations use Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to gain brand recognition and drive sales?
To understand how social media can drive leads and brand recognition, it’s important to understand the strengths of social media sites. Social media works by providing a broadcast channel where one person may reach many at one time. In addition, as information is distributed to various networks within the social media platform, it can be shared virally from network to network.
To use a practical example, let’s assume that a company wishes to advertise an in-store promotion. They may post a coupon code in Facebook that can be redeemed in the store. The company will distribute their coupon to everyone on the list of the person sending it. A loyal customer may then share the coupon with all their friends, and several of those recipients may do the same. The end result may be that an ad sent out to 50 people reaches a million in the end. By sharing exclusive information online, many companies can drive sales by sparking the interest of old and new customers, or by attracting bargain hunters.
Social media may also play a large role in brand awareness, and reputation management. By putting a human face on a corporate entity, companies can connect on a more personal level with clients. Representatives of the company may give interested readers regular updates via a blog, or Twitter account. By remaining active in the social sphere their clients inhabit, companies can stay frequently on the minds of their customers. This is the cornerstone of brand awareness. Never allow a customer to forget about you.
The only caveat of using social media as a tool to drive sales is the fact that results are very hard to quantify. It can be very difficult for companies to find metrics for success, or to connect social media broadcast range with leads and sales. Few companies can truly place a figure on the return of social media work. That’s why for most companies who wish to use social media, the best approach is a consistent, low investment approach. Having an employee make a ‘Tweet’ once a day, or ensuring that all blog updates are shared to a Facebook fan page, Twitter, and LinkedIn are a good start. Another method of tracking the source of leads or sales is to place a promotion on a social media service that is available nowhere else. When customers take advantage of the promotion, the source will be very evident.
Until there are clear methods of making use of social media for sales purposes, the best use of this technology is in brand recognition and reputation management, because only through this channel is it possible to engage with the customer directly.