Social for business - a myth or reality?

Irfan Khan, Head, Marketing & Strategic Alliances, TO THE NEW, lays down six focus areas that when collectively targeted, will result in tangible business performance on social channels

by Irfan Khan
Published - Jun 9, 2014 8:39 AM Updated: Jun 9, 2014 8:39 AM
Social for business - a myth or reality?

The embracing of social media across all demographics of consumers has created a huge opportunity for brands and organizations to use social media for business. Surprisingly, there are still business owners who choose to ignore social media from their business strategy! With the prevailing ignorance of social media amongst many business owners, a simple question arises: Is social for business a myth or reality?

Social for business is not just a reality, brands must become social and connect with digital first consumers to stay relevant today. Those who fail to adapt, will fall behind their competitors, if not already. 

So, how can brands successfully enable business on social media? Below are six focus areas that when collectively targeted, will result in tangible business performance on social channels:  

1.     Marketing: Though this has been the flag-bearer for majority of brands when it comes to adoption of social media, brands still have not covered the whole spectrum. A real social marketing activation has to be contextual, real-time and personalized in order to connect with social and mobile first customers.

Starbucks had rolled out its ‘TweetaCoffee’ Program where it effectively engaged and monetized Twitter fans. The concept was simple: send a message to @Tweetacoffee to buy a gift card for a friend. The program garnered around $180k in 40 days of its launch. That is the power of effectively using social media in a structured way.

2.     Sales: Social channels have the potential to not only increase sales but also reduce the sales cycle for brands. The availability of real-time analytics empowers sales team to connect with the customers at the right time, at the right place and with an enticing message giving them the required edge over their competition. On top of this, an innovative brand should also explore integrating social channels with their CRM to reap maximum benefits.

Chicago based Foiled Cupcakes surpassed their revenue targets by 600 per cent by effectively using only social channels for the sales and marketing of their new products.

3.     Support and Service: It is not just about adding separate support channel on various social platforms. Social media has enabled self-serve options where customers are solving issues of customers. Brands like KLM and GM have really excelled in integration on social media with their customer service framework.

General Motors introduced the FastLane blog to directly engage with the public, which soon became an important unfiltered voice for the company, its customers and car enthusiasts. This direct line of communication with the target audience has helped reduce the customer feedback cost by $180k/yr.

4.     Product and Innovation: Businesses oddly have restricted the usage of social analytics to marketing focused activities. Integration of insights into product management and crowdsourcing for research and development are two focus areas through which brands can transform their social presence into an innovation hub.

Taco Bell identified influencers in South East Asia and started following them on Twitter to interact with the social and mobile first consumers. A mere mention of the influencer helped in 100s of retweets and favorites.

5.     Collaboration: One of the biggest issues which businesses of all sizes have been facing for long is synergy between internal functions. Social technologies provide the perfect platform to facilitate collaboration at all levels to overcome this challenge.

Industrial Toys, a mobile games development company, uses social media internally to channel creativity from different members and help the team stay on the same page for each project in real-time.

6.     Customer Experience: Customer experience is just not about VIP treatment or location based message push. To deliver a seamless customer experience, brands needs to enable social customer insights from all the above focus areas. Companies that have adapted social media have realized the need to fundamentally change the way they engage with the customers and are transforming the way they manage their business.

In an innovative campaign, KLM surprised passengers who had checked in on Twitter at the airport with a personalized gift - something to enjoy on their trip. The endeavor generated a phenomenal amount of good feeling that translated into customer loyalty and there was a powerful ripple effect: the KLM Twitter feed was viewed more than one million times during the month of the campaign.

Social for business is real, is here and organizations simply cannot afford to ignore the power of social media.

The author manages marketing and strategic alliances at TO THE NEW, Asia’s leading SMACK services provider. He is a digital evangelist, an entrepreneur who has been involved in multiple internet-based startups and has mastered the art of building strategic partnerships. 

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