February 25, 2016
The most recent Pew Research study of social media usage shows that 65 percent of adults now use social media sites—up from only 7 percent just ten years ago! And, social media isn’t just for digital natives these days. Pew’s research shows that while those ages 18-29 are still the most prolific users (at 90 percent), those 65 and older are jumping on board as well—in 2015, 35 percent of those 65+ reported that they use social media sites, compared to only 2 percent in 2005.
This is all good news for marketers, of course, and if you spend any time at all on social media sites you can readily see that companies, large and small, are using the sites to market their wares to both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) markets.
But social media has applications that extend beyond marketing.
LinkedIn is probably the social media channel most thought of as a recruitment tool. The site, in fact, started out as a means for job seekers to connect with potential employers and recruiters. Today, employers both post job openings and also “troll” profiles looking for “passive” candidates that might meet their needs. Passive candidates are those who are not actively looking for a job. Recruiters have also extended their reach beyond LinkedIn to use other social media sites—like Facebook, Twitter and even Pinterest—to find job candidates.
If you’ve ever posted a somewhat negative comment or complaint about a company online and received an almost immediate follow-up response from a representative from the company, you’ve experienced how social media can be used as a customer service tool. Savvy companies set up processes that allow them to monitor and curate online comments so that they can quickly intervene and address any issues consumers may have.
Employee Communication and Collaboration
Many social media sites offer the opportunity to create closed, or proprietary, groups that only pre-selected members can join. LinkedIn and Facebook are two examples of this. This can provide big benefits for organizations that want to provide employees who may be geographically dispersed with an opportunity to engage and connect. Setting up such groups can also be an important part of a crisis communication plan—providing an opportunity to get messages out to employees, and other key audiences, in the event of an emergency.
There’s a lot of data to be found through social media and a lot of insights to be gleaned about consumers’ interests and preferences. While companies need to be cautious about drawing too many conclusions from what is qualitative information, these insights can serve as the basis for further quantitative research and can also provide early indications of key trends that may be impacting your markets.
These are just a few examples of the big benefits that social media can hold for companies beyond marketing. What would you add to the list?
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