Google defines social media as: “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking”. It is a fairly accurate description of social media but is it definitive? By ‘definitive’, we mean to ask if this definition defines everything that social media is. We’re sorry Google but it isn’t! There are more uses for social media than most people realise. As a result of this, the true potential of social media remains in many ways untapped.
Generally, people use social media for keeping in touch with people or for entertainment. LinkedIn is used for keeping in touch with professional contacts. Facebook is more informal and is used for either keeping in touch with friends and family or for entertainment. Twitter is slightly different because it also allows people to get to know new people. Our point is that, in the majority of cases, social media is only used for basic purposes.
How Many Uses For Social Media Are There?
There is no limit. Social media is easily one of the most dynamic platforms of the digital age. This means that its uses can be as diverse as our imagination. The more innovative and creative we are, the more we can use social media for. Basically, you can use social media for whatever you can make work.
You can incorporate it into your operations, into your internal communications, and even into your market research. Our flights of fancy have yielded no less than 6 alternate uses for social media that individuals and businesses miss out on. Perhaps there are more that we haven’t been able to figure out. We’ll keep trying. Meanwhile, here are those five uses for your benefit.
Businesses in touch with recent trends find spoons to be much more useful than cranes when it comes to scooping sand grains. This is just another way of saying getting the target audience as opposed to trying for everyone on the planet. To do this, these businesses need to target their campaigns very carefully. This requires market research. Market research, however, can end up being quite expensive, especially if you hire an external agency. But, do you know what is not expensive? Market research via social media.
Virtually everyone these days has a social media account. This means that social media platforms give businesses access to all types of individuals. Therefore, regardless of what your target audience persona is, you can test the efficacy of your campaign on one or more social media platforms. Simply by studying engagement metrics of your post, you can gain key insights into your target audiences and their behaviour.
For example, these metrics can help you refine the content you share with your audience, making your social media campaign and even the digital media campaign more effective. Similarly, you can determine your audience’s buying patterns by simply watching how they engage with your social media page. Finally, in your followers, you have a captive focus group that you can use to soft launch your products and review responses.
Social media can also be a wonderful avenue for lateral synergy. Lateral synergy is when a business ties up with another business to promote their services together. That is the synergy part. The lateral part refers to the relevance that each of these businesses holds for the other. Both these businesses are relevant to each other because they operate in the same industry. At the same time, they don’t impinge on each other’s sales.
In fact, they support each other’s sales. Consider a business that sells office equipment and supplies. This business would be selling various types of office equipment such as printers, computers, laptops, and printers etc. Such a business can tie up with a repair and maintenance business for combined social media promotional activities. It would make sense for these two types of businesses to tie up because the customer of one has the potential to become the customer of the other.
Such B2B collaboration becomes easier with social media in two ways. The first is that finding potential partners is easier on social media. You get to observe the potential partner, his marketing strategy, his communication strategy, his objectives, and even the nature of his followers. The second is cost effectiveness. Two businesses tied up in such a way for promotional activities will end up seeing better Returns on Investment (ROI) than either of them would independently.
Customer service is another one of those off-the-centre uses for social media. Consider the results of this survey from Sprout Social. Two of this survey’s findings should reveal to you why customer service on social media is important.
- 89 percent of social media messages go unanswered.
- 1 in every 3 customers will switch to a competitor if he is ignored.
By not answering your social media messages, whether public or private, you’re helping your customers. If you’re thinking that your audience won’t be interested in customer service via social media, think again. Regardless of how non-technological your industry may be or how old your target audience is, you’ll find that they’ll appreciate social media-focused customer care. This same survey that we’re talking about showed social media to be the most preferred mode for receiving customer service, followed closely by live chat and website modules.
Customer service isn’t just about retaining that single customer but also retaining other or even converting some potentials into real customers. When you serve a customer well on social media, the success is public and visible to everyone. This can impress other existing customers as well as the circle of the satisfied customer, leading to more retention and acquisition.
At the same time, though, customer service on social media needs to be handled carefully of it can blow up in your face. We would like to point you to another post we wrote on common customer care mistakes to avoid to elucidate this point.
In this entire list of alternate uses for social media, this one is probably the closest to being adopted globally. There’s a quiet revolution going on in the world in recruitment. Businesses are slowly moving away from conventional methods of recruitment to the new rage – social recruitment. The traditional recruitment methodology was twofold – ads in some publication or a recruitment agency. The new method is to do the recruiting on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter.
While only a few businesses have started using social media platforms for recruitment independently, most recruitment agencies have resorted to them to find candidates for their clients. Thus, a business can save a considerable amount of money by getting on the social recruitment bandwagon. Here’s how it works.
- LinkedIn: There are two ways of using LinkedIn for social recruitment. The obvious is to use LinkedIn’s own vacancy posting service. Such vacancies are posted on LinkedIn Jobs where professionals can view and apply for the jobs. The other method is to leverage your own network and your employees’ networks with a simple status update describing the vacancy. Joining groups is the third option. Finally, a proactive technique will be to go through people’s profiles independently with the help of the paid version of LinkedIn.
- Facebook: Joining groups on Facebook is the primary method of social recruitment. Like on LinkedIn, these groups could be based on anything ranging from profession to brands and even industries. Posting vacancies on such groups can lead to direct applicants. Using specialised recruitment groups and pages will yield better results. Furthermore, using your own network and asking your connections to share vacancy related status updates can also be effective.
- Twitter: Twitter will probably give you the greatest audience of candidates simply because updates on Twitter are shared without a filter. For instance, you can post vacancies through either your personal account, brand account, or company account. If you use the right hashtags such as #hiring, #vacancies, #jobpost, or #recruitment amongst others, you’ll reach just the right type of audience.
While social recruitment is well on its way to being adopted globally, of all the uses for social media listed here, internal communication is probably the least used. However, there are some pioneering businesses out there that have created their own social media groups. They create social media groups and then populate it with their employees so that companywide announcements can be shared with everyone at the same time.
This is very useful if what you want to do is create a business social presence because when employees come to the group for such announcements, they may also start publicising their employers in their own circles. This can also create more camaraderie amongst the employees since they’ll connect with each other online and, at a later stage, offline.