How Social Media Is Evolving as a Business Tool Beyond Marketing
Hundreds of millions of people log on to their favorite social media platforms each day. Instagram, for instance, sees over 800 million active users each month, with nearly 500 million Instagrammers logging in every single day. This sheer scale of content generation and consumption has made social media an attractive platform for sales and marketing.
From a business perspective, the humongous user base of popular social media platforms also present other opportunities. Networking with prospective clients or partners is simpler today with websites like LinkedIn and even Facebook. Vetting candidates for job openings and hiring new employees is another popular use of social platforms.
But the evolution of social media as a business tool goes beyond these popular use-cases. Let us take a look at the other ways social media is changing the way businesses function.
Project management and activity collaboration is a big part of any business. Collaboration software applications are used by almost every single department, regardless of the size of the organization. The best collaboration apps are those that offer a multi-channel communication system with both real-time and offline messaging capabilities.
Facebook’s inherent communication features thus offer an ideal platform for business collaboration. Two years back, the company launched ‘Workplace,’ an independent collaboration app that comes equipped with all the regular Facebook features like live chat, file sharing, Groups, News Feed and video chat. A lot of these core features are available for free.
The workplace is not the only collaboration feature with a social angle. Yammer, the social collaboration application that is now owned by Microsoft, started off as an enterprise alternative to Twitter. A number of other collaboration tools have come up over the past several years that are designed with a social networking perspective. Slack is another popular example.
According to Daniel Wolchonok, the Director of Product Analysis at HubSpot, nearly 60% of people who log out within one week of signing up did so either because they did not see the value in the product, or because they didn’t understand how it worked. Onboarding is the process of training a customer to use your product or service. The objective is to simplify the learning curve and help the customer understand the product value. The successful execution here would not only satisfy your customer, but also raise the barrier for competitors vying for your customers.
Social media has made customer onboarding seamless and effective. Businesses no longer have to invest time and money in training customers face-to-face (as it still happens at a number of enterprises). Instead, video-based conferencing over Facebook and Google Plus has brought down the distance that separates the business from its customer. Organizations also get to host webinars over platforms like YouTube and Google Hangout. In addition to this, organizations make eLearning a continuous process over Facebook Groups. Articles and videos pertaining to your product and industry serve as supplementary resources, while Messenger and the comments section serve as platforms for deeper discussion between the service provider and buyer.
Social media applications like Facebook and Instagram are perfect for market research. Facebook allows businesses to target their ads on very specific and niche filters like age, interests, device usage and even purchasing behavior. For instance, if you are a smartphone manufacturer targeting teens, you may perform market research on teenagers using an iPhone or a Google Pixel to understand the factors contributing to their purchase.
Instagram has a directory of users from every suburb across the world. If you are a brick and mortar business, you may narrow down your research to people from your own suburb or neighborhood.
The ability of social media tools to target users by demographics or location is well known. Businesses, however, miss out on using these features for market research. Instagram has built-in tools to organize polls. Facebook has dozens of well-made apps to conduct surveys. The ability to create market surveys and target them to a niche set of users is what makes social media platforms so powerful for market research.
Customer Lifecycle Management
Customer lifecycle is essentially the progression of stages that a customer goes through as they begin considering a purchase, evaluating the product, buying it, consuming the product, becoming a loyal buyer, and so on. In every business, there are bottlenecks and vulnerable points where the customer breaks off from their lifecycle and stops progressing. In some ways, each employee in a business, even those not in charge of marketing, plays a part in furthering the customer’s lifecycle.
Social media platforms help business organizations with end-to-end management of a customer’s lifecycle. The most visible component is marketing, as it targets users who are yet to convert into paying customers. But tools like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are also quite valuable beyond this point.
Facebook and Twitter, for instance, are today two of the most popular platforms for customer service. Customers who face problems with the product or service are more likely to reach out to the organization on Facebook or Twitter, rather than over call or email. The openness of these platforms also makes it a PR-necessity for businesses to promptly respond to customer inquiries. In addition to this, Facebook has also integrated chatbots to the Messenger platform. This makes it possible for businesses to automate responses to a lot of frequently asked support questions.
Making The Best Use Of Social Media
A business presence on social media is no longer an option. It’s an absolute necessity. Customers find businesses on tools like Instagram, interact with them on Twitter and rate/review them on Facebook. But the utility of social media to a business goes beyond all this. The ideas presented above is a small start towards making social media all the more inherent to the operations of a modern business.
What are your thoughts? Share your views in the comments.