Social media means business

Oct 1, 2010

With the advent of cloud computing, virtual server technology and increasingly advanced computer hardware there is an unquestionable growth in business technology occurring right now. (Cloud computing is an Internet-based operation with shared resources placed online instead of on local computers/servers and mainframes.)

Moreover, there is a fundamental change in the way that businesses are now expected to communicate with their consumers using new mediums and progressive methods.

I cannot think of a more appropriate tagline for an automotive company in the past few years than that of Nissan North America. The slogan is simply and accurately stated as “Shift_.” The underscore is just hanging there, welcoming the public to “fill in the blank” with personal bite-size chunks of information that they all seem to crave. Shift_, a wonderful double meaning that is all too fitting when speaking about both current technology and of the ever-growing Y-Generation.

Shift_

The word “shift” has been a commonly used buzzword of late regardless of where used. It applies across a wide variety of segments well beyond the tech sector. From advertising and consumer marketing to sports and television, there is a major shift in how companies are attempting to reach and engage consumers – most commonly by using the wide variety of social media platforms that are currently available.

SEMA’s Street Performance Council (SPC) held its annual Business Technology Symposium (BTS) in July in Pasadena, Calif., to address many of the current business trends and changes occurring online. The closing session, titled “Social Media For Your Business,” wrapped up the event in fitting fashion with a strong panel of speakers that summarized many of the day’s earlier topics into practical dos and don’ts for businesses looking at getting into the social media space, as well as for those more advanced and actively participating.

I presented the final session comprised of social media experts Mike Martinez of izmocars, Bryan Elliott of SoCal Action Sports Network and Mark Davidson of Shift+One Media. The session dealt primarily with the Big Three in social media: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The speakers focused on delivering a good mix of usable consumer statistics with real-world experience and case studies. Sixty percent of consumers have interacted with companies via social media, and 93% of consumers believe companies should have a presence in social media. Thus, businesses should become involved to improve communications, generate leads and reduce costs. Perhaps most importantly the panel talked about focusing your company’s social media efforts to improve consumer relations in an open and transparent way to encourage brand trust, richen the consumer experience and hopefully continue on brand loyalty.

Are you social-media interactive?

Reinforcing the idea that companies need to get into the social media space sooner rather than later, 85% of consumers polled say that a company should not only be present but also interact with its customers via social media. This is a big part of what makes companies successful in engaging their target audience and what significantly hinders others. Genuine and honest interaction with your fans and audience should be at the top of the priority list since 56% of those same people say they feel a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment. If that is not a compelling case enough for you, maybe it should be the 41% that say companies should use social media to solicit feedback about products and services.

People are begging for your company and brand to reach out and make a connection with them. As the saying goes, “strike while the iron is hot” and don’t pass up any opportunity to connect with potential customers and reinforce the bonds with existing customers.

In addition to providing numerous examples of real-world best practices, the panel also spoke about other places to reach consumers online other than the Big Three. One of the largest places to reach them is inside forums and blogs. Referred to as the original social media, forums are made up of a concentrated group of vehicle owners and enthusiasts interacting and communicating inside online communities, and blogs are significantly increasing as go-to sources for consumer information.

A common message throughout the day was to be smart about how and where to reach your customers. They are ready and waiting for you online inside social media platforms. Get started and begin personally reaching out to consumers where they already live. It can provide tremendous ROI and greatly increase your brand equity.