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How social media is spreading its influence across business

It is no longer realistic to restrict social media to the hiring process, or marketing, or customer service – the increased transparency of the social...

It is no longer realistic to restrict social media to the hiring process, or marketing, or customer service – the increased transparency of the social web means that many corporate departments are blending their activities and responsibilities.

This is now as true in the B2B sphere as in B2C, as companies check out potential suppliers and contractors online for everything from compatibility to reputation. We have moved on a long way from answering the odd complaint on Twitter.

But how can a company created in the past take on this transparent world of the future? If those departments and verticals are all there and yet the default position is to ban social media use inside the company, then what is the next step to build a sensible, and sustainable, B2B strategy?

It is a problem we are advising on more and more these days, as our work on customer service now has to be integrated into the work of many other corporate departments.

When planning a strategy for engagement it is also worth considering who is going to engage and what power they should have, regardless of platform.

Social media experts often talk about building online followers. There is an entire industry in ‘buying’ followers that aim to boost your online rankings, but are companies really interested in quality or quantity? Quality is surely the key. You might not be able to match Stephen Fry or David Cameron for follower numbers, but you will be able to engage with important contacts, strong leads and people relevant to your industry using this approach alone.

A new survey by Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing that focuses on the small business sector highlights the views of 40 per cent of managers who express the view that they are unworried by a relatively small online following, as long as their followers are people they can engage with and do business with.

Almost all organisations using social media use it to push news about their organisation – a full 91 per cent – but it is interesting to note that the survey shows around that about three quarters of companies are using the online environment to actively solicit feedback about their products and services. This is an enormous change in both the marketing and customer service function for most companies – they are actively engaging and promoting links, rather than waiting to hear complaints and merely reacting when it happens.

It  is clear that social media use is no longer a nice to have addition to your business strategy, but is already an essential channel that your clients expect to be there.


Andy McDonald is Director of Social Media and Multi-Channel for Teleperformance UK.