A recent study by Salesforce.com revealed that 77% of nearly 4,000 marketers polled, believe social can drive return on investment. This is up a whopping 46%, from only 31% last year. Furthermore, in the same study, 39% of respondents said social generates “significant ROI”, up 30% from only 9% the previous year.
The other day, I was talking to a close friend in the VC world about importance of social media. He told me that if you are short of funds (a lightly funded startup, for example) and looking for high impact, social media is really the only game in town.
I believe companies inherently know the importance of social media. Regardless, many still tell me they are challenged with understanding the full power of social in the business context and also in terms of explaining the ROI from these efforts. This could also be translated as: “How do I explain this to my CFO or financial backers”. Here is what I tell them:
1) Market Research
By using social media you can gain real-time insights that would otherwise be difficult to collect. Social media allows you to listen in on conversations around key issues and opportunities. For any given issue or objective, organizations can use social media to collect insights on what matters most to current and prospective clients, competitors, political leaders and key decision makers.
For example, if you’re organization is chasing a big contract, you can use social media to learn what others are saying about the proposed project. You may discover through social media that there are public concerns (e.g. social, environmental) that need to be addressed. You can also identify the decision makers and which ones will be important in winning the bid. You can determine if there are “landmine issues” you want to avoid discussing, and most important organizations can identify where they can bring value into conversations.
Social media — and more specifically a good digital strategy, targeted scanning and analytics, will position your business for success.
2) Build on employees’ and close contacts’ existing relationships
Regardless if business is done online or offline, strong relationships and trust is fundamental to business success. It is likely your employees and close contacts use tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You can check to see if your employees and contacts already have relationships with potential clients. This can minimize the need for cold calls and allow you to start a business dialogue from a pre-established point of trust.
3) Social media provides an additional touch point
Persistence is a key part of business success. You no longer have to stop at your traditional touch points of sending an e-mail or voicemail to a business prospect. People naturally get busy and often forget about inquiries. It’s now regular practice for people to follow up separately via LinkedIn or other digital channels, leading to other opportunities to build rapport with potential business partners.
4) Optics and using it as a platform to communicate
Companies are now judged by their online presence. An active digital strategy signals to clients that you are engaged and serious about your business. In fact, studies have shown that the quality of a company’s social presence is a determining factor in purchase decisions (and this applies to both B2C and B2B). Also, through online posts, you can position yourself and your organization as a trusted thought leader in your sector. It’s an easy way to build an online following and promote your service offer to otherwise difficult to reach audiences.
Written By: John Hobbs & Karen Johnstone-Hobbs, DATAMASH
This post was originally published on www.datamash.ca
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About this post: “Why Business Can No Longer Ignore Social Media” is the first of a series of posts brought to you by DATAMASH that aims to demystify social media for business. Through the series, we will explain what makes up a strategy: choosing the right channels, identifying your audience, listening to conversations, collecting insights, and developing an engagement strategy that focuses on the people that matter.