A few years ago, it would be hard to imagine what the social networks would be useful for, other than keeping up with friends and family, arranging parties and events and generally using up huge amounts of our time.
But as the number of users across the world grew exponentially, the social networks began to be seen as a lucrative source of income for businesses through advertising. In short, large dollar signs were forming in their eyes.
Facebook—ready to be friends with your boss?
With more than 900 million global users of Facebook alone, social media is now considered an integral part of any business, especially those dealing with the general public. The foundations of the business must have social networking written all over it. Companies that will be successful in the future are those that recognise the need to profoundly change the way they deal with their customers, becoming effective social enterprises.
Another factor that is driving these businesses to embrace and incorporate the social networks is fear. When Netflix announced it was increasing its prices, its customers posted 82,000 negative comments across its blogs and social network sites resulting in the loss of 800,000 customers within a matter of months.
The speed and scale of a rebellion like this has every business fearing for their lives. But instead of shying away, businesses accept that a better position is one that is closer to their customers, getting to know them better and improving the way the business is managed.
There have been a number of businesses that have attempted to restructure their foundations based on the social networks.
Burberry has taken great strides in putting social media at the very heart of what they do. They have created a digital end-to-end solution called Burberry World, which connects customer, suppliers and vendors to the brand. “You have to be totally connected to anyone who touches your brand. If you don’t do that, I don’t know what your business model is in five years.” said CEO Angela Ahrendts.
This is obviously working for them with recent reports showing pre-tax profits and sales both up by 24%.
Hewlett-Packard, manufacturers of everything from wireless printers to calculators, have shown how marketers can encourage positive feedback from Facebook followers. With 1.8 million likes so far, the company decided to focus on and display the unique features of their latest products on their Facebook page. They felt that by doing this, and avoiding listing all of the specifications, they could improve the image of the products and generate more positive feedback, which is exactly what happened.
But it doesn’t stop here. The social media strategy must spread across the whole business, including its employees. It is highly probable that the majority of employees at a given business are social, and that the social networks play some part in their lives.
In a bid to improve employee attitude and output, businesses have attempted to engage their employees by developing social business apps, which enable users to follow the people and data that matter to them most. Updates are displayed in a social feed, and online groups of employee’s help teams get organised, share information and collaborate.
A social revolution appears to be unfolding before our eyes.
Image Courtesy: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colearn_Social_Media.jpg