One of the fundamental benefits of Social Media is that it infinitely expands the space currently available to you physically and on the web. As a result, social media allows companies to establish intimate relationships with larger and more diverse audiences.
Depending on the type of business employees, vendors, trainees, partners, existing and prospective clients, co-op students, media and even competitors will engage with each other in your office. Because space limited, you can accommodate only so many people at any given moment. Thus prioritization of corporate interests needs to take place and some audiences end up being privileged guests while others - discriminated against. Choice is difficult but it has to be made.
Today, collaboration space becomes infinite for businesses that master Social Business Patterns (IBM defines these as processes that can be understood, learned and put to practice3 by any business) Employees can enjoy working from home -- wherever and whenever -- while still making an integral part of corporate culture and engagement. Moreover, knowledge sharing and finding external expertise are taken to unprecedented levels with the social tools.
While expensive but greatly effective IBM Connect or Yammer implementations are likely to be the choice of Fortune 500 companies, Google+ is a give-away for smaller businesses. This Social Business Platform offers valuable tools that bring the nuance of real-life collaboration online. Hangouts -- a fast and reliable video chat service -- can accommodate up to 10 people (15 in paid version) in a virtual boardroom. Use it for real-time learning and collaboration. Google Apps -- an affordable and scalable office suite -- is just what you need to collaborate on documents and projects. Finally, Google+ on its own is a Social Layer (as explained by Google+ top contributor Martin Shervington) to all things Google.
Through technological advance and digital mind pooling, social media liberates and empowers employees. With the right setup, your on-line employees may prove to be more efficient and passionate at work than the residents of your office.
VIP clients often make the most privileged audience and get to enjoy lavish receptions. However, not all the customers have the time to pay a visit to your office and not all of them fall into the VIP category. Nevertheless, all of them lust to know intimate details about your business, culture and processes. That’s where social media comes to play.
By sharing behind-the-scenes moments, in-house wisdom and important achievements through social channels, businesses establish stronger ties with their clients. Today, your clients don’t have to leave their office or home to feel the nuance of real-life visit and engagement. No longer you have to discriminate against smaller customers who, frankly, are as important for your business as the privileged ones. Invite all the clients to your Social Office and enjoy stronger and livelier relationships with them.
Big corporations spend a lot of time and effort to promote their brand. They can afford to nurture a culture of evangelism among their fans through expensive receptions at headquarters and banquet halls. Limited space and economies of scale make traditional kind of branding available only to the select few.
Today, however, even smaller businesses can build an integrated community of evangelists by employing social media. Instead of having to reach out to and impress journalists, politicians and celebrities at a great expense, businesses can and should appeal directly to their audience. More importantly, socially enabled businesses can now appeal to a vastly bigger audience -- friends of their followers -- by employing pre-existing social ties and trust between them. All without even having to have an office or rent banquet halls.
Simply showcase your exceptional workmanship and culture in social media. This will impress and inspire your fans and their friends will follow.
There are also tricks to expedite community building. You can promote your business to larger audiences through Facebook Ads. You can advertise your social ties to searchers on Google through AdWords Social Extensions. You can draw more attention to your elegant Tweets through Twitter Ads.
One advice -- follow the model that works in the physical world -- make your fans talk about your brand with pride. Then leverage this love in social ads. Through this approach, you’ll make your ads feel natural and relevant.
There are various audiences whose needs you must satisfy on your website. Accommodating all of your audiences yet providing outstanding user experience is nearly impossible. Website personalization -- a method where users are served with relevant information depending on who they are -- attempts to solve this problem. However, achieving highly efficient personalization requires enormous amount of data about the users. Only world’s largest businesses can afford to collect, maintain and analyze this data.
Without high level of personalization, your potential to present relevant information -- without having to discriminate against audiences of secondary importance -- is very limited. In essence, websites either suffer from poor user experience or from serving irrelevant information to important but less privileged audiences.
Social media solves this problem. Users willingly provide data about themselves on various social platforms. On a high level, you can view each social channel as space where unique audiences with unique interests reside. For example, Pinterest is known to serve people interested in design, food and recipes, electronics, art and various lifestyles. You get this idea directly from Pinterest’s About Page.
On a deep level, many platforms let page owners perform very fine audience segmentation and post targeting. In Google+, you can create and manually maintain Circles. Facebook takes a different approach. Instead of using manually maintained lists, you can Target Custom or Lookalike Audiences with your posts by specifying diverse and detailed criteria.
Armed with social tools, you no longer have to observe space limitations of your website. You can now share more relevant information with wider and more diverse audiences. Just keep in mind, each post you make requires various types of resources -- time, money, human capital and etc. It is very important to observe your return on investment. Focus on satisfying the needs of those audiences who appreciate your attention and help you drive your business to success.
There is only so much you can put on display in a brick-and-mortar (or even an ecommerce) store without having to ruin the shopping experience. You can’t advertise too much or else you risk to face the law of diminishing returns. You can’t sell too many products or else you risk getting your customers lost in the maze of the product isles. You can’t target too many audiences or else you end up targeting no one.
Social media erases these limitations. Through targeted posting, you can stay relevant to each audience yet you are not limited by the number of promotions you can run simultaneously. You can sell as many products online as you want. Yet you can showcase them individually to select groups of people and deliver the nuance of real-life shopping online. Finally, your clients can share their experience with each other. Your employees can assist shoppers in making purchasing decisions. All right on your social page. This is how you cultivate trust and promote your brand through evangelism.
When you share, remember, buyers don’t only want to see your products, prices and promotions. They want to experience everything you have to offer. Show those who are behind each transaction, put your physical premises on display (even if it is just an office or a warehouse), talk about your processes and achievements. Intimate details about your business instill trust in people’s minds.
One fundamental benefit of social media is that it greatly expands available space and increases the number of connections on- and off-line. As a result, deeper, wider and more personalized engagement happens between more people.
There is one way we found that helps understanding this change faster and easier. Look at social media through the prism of real-life experiences. How does your business operate and interact with people? What helps you establish and maintain good relationships? What are the limitations of physical world and how can technology help your business break the barriers?
Remember, marketing in social media is merely a side effect of establishing true relationships with wider and more diverse audiences.