How can you make social media work for your business?

Social media by its very nature is aimed at drawing people together. Getting people to network, form groups of interest and chat about day to day happenings. But the question is, can business profit from something that is often seen as a non-business entity?

Embrace change

Don’t be scared of breaking away from the norm. Embrace the ongoing change in the world today. Too many people and businesses don’t take on the new technology for fear of change. They are too comfortable in their current grove.

But where would we be without change?

I remember an old boss of mine who flat refused for many years to switch form old Lotus123 over to Microsoft Excel. He was scared of the change. Scared of new challenges. He was quite comfortable with Lotus123.

In fact he was very productive using Lotus and his productivity would have taken a big knock had he changed. Well, we know the outcome, Lotus123 is no longer around and Excel is the predominant business spreadsheet program around.

The point is that switching to new technology is often scary, often seems un-productive, and not profitable. But history teaches us that in the long run switching and embracing new technology is the wisest choice you can make.

Using social media together with business

I think the problem lies in not thinking of your social media strategy as part of your business objectives. The reason why social media never works for business is because they do not see it as an integral part of their business.

A good friend of mine, Anton Koekemoer from antonkoekemoer.com, says this; “Many companies are creating and planning various social media strategies without considering their overall business objectives. To get the best out of your SMM campaign, you have to use your social objectives together with your business objectives to understand the effectiveness of your campaign.“

So then how can business align their business objectives with their social media campaign? Well best I direct you to a great blog post by Anton on this very subject. Head on over to Using social media together with business objectives and read this excellent post on tips and how to ideas on using social media together with business objectives.

Companies using social media

To highlight my point though I would list a few well known companies that are using social media well.

Starbucks – Starbucks asks for suggestions on how to make the company better. If you provide a suggestion, Starbucks CIO will discuss the idea on the site.

Comcast – Frank Eliason, Director of Digital Care for Comcast Cable uses Twitter to look for people talking about Comcast, ‘tweets’ them, and offers to help.

Ford – Scott Monty used Twitter well to avoid a public relations fiasco. Ford did this by communicating online, in real time with their customers.

Sun Microsystems – Sun Microsystem’s CEO blog. Jonathan Schwartz’s blog received up to 400,000 hits a month. Its success lends itself to its openness. Positive and negative comments are allowed, and even the most inane are approved.

Coca Cola – Coca Cola’s Facebook fan page was started by two fans. Instead of taking it down the company gave these users the power to run the page for them. Even though this is a very bold move to make, it gets their fans involved with the brand and thereby the fans get value out of the page.

Conclusion

The fact of the matter is that Social Media does work. It’s how you make it work for you that matters. Don’t fall behind. Embrace new ideas and new technology. The question is, how can you make Social Media work for your business? Other businesses have made it work. Why can’t you?

Have you been successful in integrating social media and your business? Let us know your story in the comments below.

Robert Bravery is a professional programmer, Web site Developer and professional blogger for Integral Web Solutions.