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Trending Now: Business and Social Media

Status updates, posting pictures and connecting with friends are familiar phrases that are used when describing social media. Expanding a customer base, increasing profits and market share and communicating with employees are phrases that are often used in business.

Both of these topics put an emphasis on connecting with someone in some way and can be used together to help a business reach out to their customers and grow their bottom line. Social media is a growing trend in business to help to connect with customers, communicate with employees and grow profits by advertising and offering specials for “friends”. Business leaders are looking for new ways to reach out to their customers or potential customers and social media is a relatively new vehicle to drive business.

Social media sites have been in use since the 1997, when Six Degrees was created. Almost every year following ’97 there has been some type of social media site introduced to the online community. In 2004 Facebook was created for Harvard students and is now open to everyone. According to Facebook.com, the site has 845 million active users worldwide. In 2006 Facebook opened availability for companies to create their own pages and to attract followers. According to insidefacebook.com, there are over 21,000 companies on Facbook.

Twitter, a social networking site that allows users to post updates on where they are or what they are doing, has created a way for users to connect with the people they follow in a different way.
LinkedIn, a social networking site for working professionals, allows users to create profiles and post their resumes so other contacts within their network can view their qualifications for any potential job openings. This site is also beneficial to companies because they can create profiles about their organization and monitor and qualify potential job applicants. New avenues in communication have been created due to the popularity of social media.

Social media can play a pivotal role in aiding or hurting a company’s relationship with its customers and employees. More companies are using social media to help bounce back from a crisis or to self promote a new product or service or even an event that they may be hosting. Several sites that can be beneficial for a company are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Facebook can be a good avenue for companies because they post about the company’s goals and mission, future events, pictures that help paint the company in a positive light and updates on what is currently going on at the company.

LinkedIn can help companies look for optional job candidates through their contacts or when LinkedIn users search the company’s job postings. Twitter can be a tool a company uses to inform followers of certain events or new products that they are creating. Some organizations also use Twitter to inform followers of when they are having a sale to help drive up revenue for the company. Debra Slagle, superintendent for Westwind Schools, said “Our schools use Facebook and Twitter to let students and parents know about upcoming events. We have seen more participation from our students and parents since we began using these tools.”

Social media can be a great tool when trying to get the company’s side of the story out during a crisis. Before social media companies would have to go to the media to give their side of the story. Now they have an outlet where they can get their side out in a fast and effective way. Claudia Hualde, social media manager at Insperity, said “Social media has been a great tool for our company when connecting with our customers. When something happens we can post on our Facebook or Twitter account what is happening so they have up to date information. I can control what I say about my company which is somewhat reassuring because I can’t control what a reporter says.” Companies can use social media to communicate with their customers in an efficient and effective way.

Comments from posts that were made in response to a particular situation can fall into the good and bad aspect of social media. Good comments underneath a company’s statement let the company and its followers know that they have supporters and that they may have responded in the right way. Negative comments below a company’s statement can potentially harm how their customers view the company. No matter what is said, good or bad, the person who is monitoring social media for the company should never delete comments. Companies such as Sallie Mae and ChapStick have been caught deleting comments and have received backlash from those actions. Sallie Mae deleted comments on their page recently that were in response to fees that they were imposing on their customers. ChapStick deleted comments from their page about an ad that they ran featuring a woman bent over a couch looking for her ChapStick. This ad created some controversy and followers posted negative comments about the ad on ChapStick’s Facebook wall. Followers were upset when ChapStick deleted the comments and only left the positive ones on the wall. Controlling how the company responds to a situation is o.k. but trying to control what is being said can shed the company in a negative light.

Other non-traditional forms of social media that are growing increasing popular that help to promote companies. Groupon and Living social are two of the many websites that post “deals” from businesses that consumers can buy and use at that business. These discounted deals can help businesses attract more customers and create more business. Mike Pullano, owner of Pullano’s Pizza and Wings, said “At first we were skeptical that these sites could actually create a good amount of extra business and if it didn’t we would actually lose money by offering them. We were completely wrong. We increased our customer base by 20% in the last six months just by offering two deals.” These deal websites can help companies promote themselves and bring in new customers which in the end can increase their bottom line.

Using social media to connect with customers and employees is a growing trend in business that can help companies become more transparent. Knowing the pros and cons of using social media for business and carefully navigating through this trend can help to grow the company in both customers and recognition and potentially profits.

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About Rachel Slade

Rachel Slade is a Public Relations major at Metro State. She wants to eventually go into corporate communication or media relations and loves meeting new people.

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