New research shows large companies in Australia are now well and truly ensconced on the social media landscape, but the question remains:
Are these companies strategically using new media technologies and online publishing platforms in a way that keeps them fresh and relevant, builds trust in their brand, and improves the connection they have with the marketplace?
Or are they slaves to ad hoc tactical activity and thus left wondering what all the fuss is about?
According to this year’s Yellow Pages Social Media Report, 79% of large companies have a social media presence; this is up from 50% two years ago.
In comparison, 30% of small businesses and 47% of medium-sized enterprises are on social media, so the big guys are certainly showing the way.
Is your company involved in social media, and if so, is it:
a. Because everyone else is and it’s something you feel you can’t not be a part of (the media talks about social media ad nauseum, you’ve got to be using it, yeah?).
b. Because you’re a consumer-facing business and this is how many people choose to communicate with companies nowadays, so you have little choice but to be on social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (these are the two dominate sites used by large businesses according to the Yellow Pages report, with 87% on Facebook and 64% using Twitter).
c. Because you recognise social media provides a massive opportunity to re-energise your company’s connection with the public, to ensure it stays relevant and in-sync with a marketplace that is digitally savvy and ever-evolving.
If the answer is (a), you probably need to ascertain whether you should be on social media at all. You’re probably tweeting stuff out by rote and updating your Facebook page with guff that bears little relevance to your brand or your business. The online world is cluttered enough as it is – do you really need to be adding to the white noise with content that contributes little in the way of value to people’s lives?
If your answer is (b) and if you’re using the tools correctly, you will be responding to your customers’ needs in real time and creating real value by being helpful and providing genuine utility.
But if your answer is (c), you will be looking at social media from many different angles. You will be asking yourself: how can we integrate social technologies to deepen the intensity of connection we have with the people who matter the most to the success of our business (or cause, or issue if you’re a non-profit)?
You’re potentially creating content that solves a problem or a need for your customers, or you might be getting people thinking and talking because you’re sharing opinions, knowledge and ideas around a particular subject or issue.
You might be turning followers into supporters and advocates of your brand by shining the spotlight on them, helping their cause rather than beating your own corporate chest.
You will most definitely be humanising your organisation, ensuring the public knows it’s dealing with real people who are passionate, have fun and who care about the work they’re doing.
Plus you will be building levels of trust with customers and stakeholders by using social media to increase the levels of openness and transparency in your business.
You’re doing all this because you understand all too well that people do business with people whom they know, they like and they trust. And, by using social technologies and online publishing tools in ways that are smart and strategic, over time you will get more people to know you, more people to like you and, most importantly in today’s hyper-connected age, more people to trust your brand.