It’s hard to imagine a life before social media, even though sites like Facebook and Twitter have been around for less than a decade. As businesses look back over that decade, they can easily see how these sites are changing the way they do everything. Professionals use these sites to network, interact with customers, and bring team members together.
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Yet social media has the ability to divide industries, with outdated companies falling behind their competitors. Social media can be a distraction, zapping worker productivity throughout the day, but it can also be a way to open up opportunities that would never have existed. It will become clearer that social media is an essential part of doing business today.
CEOs Must Evolve
Despite the fact that a 2013 study showed more than 80 percent of those surveyed feel it is vital for CEOs to interact on social media, there are still numerous CEOs who decline to participate. These CEOs are busy meeting face to face with potential clients and networking in the community. Meanwhile, their younger counterparts are checking for mutual connections on LinkedIn and crunching numbers to determine the success of their Twitter campaigns.
Both modes of working have their benefits, requiring professionals to strike a balance between their online lives and real-world networking. But with more consumers turning to the internet to find information about a business, a comprehensive online presence is becoming increasingly crucial to a business’s success. Just as retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart must learn to keep up with Amazon’s forward-thinking marketing techniques, old-school businesses must find ways to reach out to this new generation of social media-obsessed shoppers.
Interestingly, some of the most successful businesses are small startups that have learned to use technology to gain an edge. Rather than shelling out millions of dollars for a Super Bowl ad, these companies learn to generate buzz by creating viral content and encouraging shares and likes. Once a product or service becomes the one everyone is talking about, customers gravitate toward it, eager to learn more.
The best part about social media marketing is that it can be deployed without spending millions. If businesses handle it on their own, it costs nothing but the time of the person doing the updates. The worst part, however, is that the results aren’t always as immediate and powerful as they are with an expensive ad campaign. Professionals must wait patiently as a slow buzz is generated, using analytics and sales numbers to determine whether their efforts are paying off.
As businesses continue to try to redefine themselves in this new technology-driven world, customers are crucial to those changes. While a CEO may not be required to spend all day retweeting respected colleagues or posting insightful comments on Facebook, it is important that they realize the value of social media in driving decisions.
Realizing that value is the first step toward beginning to look at the numbers and use them to drive decisions. How many customer complaints came through Twitter last month? Which posts on Facebook received the most “likes.” Social media-savvy CEOs realize the insight that can come from gathering statistics on that information and use it to gain an edge over the competition.
As social media continues to influence everything businesses do, everyone from the CEO to the new summer intern will need to realize the part it plays in day-to-day duties. Those professionals will be forced to keep up or be left behind. But it’s equally important that professionals balance their social media efforts with face-to-face networking and traditional advertising to stay in touch with the customers who aren’t on social media around the clock.