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The importance of Social Media for Organizations

Using Apple as a model

Social Media is becoming bigger and bigger for organizations today.  As I sit back and reflect on social media from the perspective of working at a large technology company (Apple) it surprises how vital it is for an organization to be successful.  Its a way for organizations to connect to their audiences, build their brand, empower their customers as champions of their organizations, and address PR issues in real time.

But there are dangers in the world of social media as well.  If an organization does not take social media seriously, it can impact the organization negatively.  This can be due to not addressing your customers concerns, incorrect handling of PR issues, or causing a PR issue based on what the company is posting.

In today’s post I will talk to if I think that Social Media is relevant or not, can it influence the organization, my experience with social media, and how businesses should be using social media.

Is social media relevant to businesses?  

I do think that social media is very relevant to any business organization.  In fact, I don’t think businesses today can survive without using it.  The reasons for this would include the following:

  • Improved brand awareness –  Social media allows organizations to promote their brand to millions with one click of a button. By using social media it can increase the visibility of your brand to current and potential customers.
  • Cost-effective – Social media is a free resource for marketing your organization, products, and services.  Instead of spending millions on ads on TV and online you can quickly get the word out on a product, share a video and build excitement and sales for your brand.
  • Customer engagement – Social media allows you to have two-way conversations with your customers and build an engagement model that allows your customers to have a voice.
  • Loyalty to brand – Social media makes it easier for an organization’s customers to find you and connect with your brand messaging.  It builds a bond that is crucial to the long-term success of the business.
  • Improved customer satisfaction – With social media giving customers a voice it allows for a greater customer satisfaction as their issues are being heard, service issues are being resolved, and bonds are built
  • Education – The big thing I have seen from my perspective with Apple is we have used social media as a way to educate our customers on our products through sharing of articles and helpful videos.  This helps our customers understand and use our products in more efficient ways and at the same time can reduce future contact volume on these same questions/issues.

How does social media influence the organization?  

Social media can have a major influence over an organization and its culture.  Below is a list of just some of the ways the organized are influenced by social media?

  • Hiring – If you go on LinkedIn you will see plenty of ads for organizations hiring and looking for new people to join their teams.  This gives organizations a different way to reach potential employees that they didn’t have in the past
  • Sharing of positive news – Current employees can share positive news.  I think of the recent announcement that Apple is now a trillion dollar company.  I shared this on my social media and most of the Apple employees I’m friends with shared this as well.  This helps impact the culture of the company by building a bigger brand
  • Competition – You see friendly competition all of the time on Social media between different companies.  It pushed organizations to think outside of the box to keep up with other organizations
  • Direct feedback from customers – The customers will tell organizations their feelings about their products and services and it can influence organizations to rethink their strategies and list to the voice of their customers
  • Public voice – It gives organizations the option to share their voice on any number of subjects such as political or terrible incidents like terrorism and bad storms.

Social Media ideas put into action in my professional life

I have seen Social Media adopted over the last few years.  I think back to my time at Time Warner and I don’t think the organization ever mentioned social media or made a big push for it.  But over the last 6 years with Apple, I have seen the support of Social Media taking off.

I have seen Apple make social media a huge focus in the following ways:

  • Social Media team – An entire team has been created to support the various social media platforms.  This is to ensure that customer’s questions are answered, that helpful articles are shared, and to ensure that the voice of customers is heard.
  • Built a loyal fan base – Even before Social Media Apple did a great job of building out a loyal fan base that was passionate about its products.  But with Social Media this has grown through customer engagement, sharing of ideas, sharing of support, and just listening to feedback.
  • Education – Apple has created an entire YouTube channel that walks users through how to use products and features.  This is on top of a dedicated group that promotes articles and videos on Twitter and FaceBook
  • Marketing – Apple has used this as a way to market new products and features to great fanfare and viral videos
  • A voice – Tim Cook our CEO has used social media as a way to address those urgent issues and represent Apple in the way it wants to be seen

Some examples of this focus is below:

 

 

 

 

 

What application do you think strategic social media has in the current business environment? 
I believe strategic social media should become an increasingly important part of any organization’s marketing and communication planning.  
 
It should no longer be viewed as a trendy or passing fad.  I think its here to stay and each organization should understand how they can use it to benefit their organization.  
 
The first step for an organization to understand social media is to understand their business, their customers, and what they want to accomplish with the social media platforms.  
 
For example, if you are a smaller company you may need to use social media to build a dedicated customer base by offering the personal touch that only local businesses can provide.  Whereas a large organization may need to use social media to connect with a larger audience in order to get national exposure to its products and services.  
 
If you want to go further with social media then you should consider creating a social media staff that creates a strategy and offers how you will support these platforms.  I have seen so many organizations fail because they can’t understand the role of social media and their customer’s concerns are left unanswered.  If this happens it can lead to a broken brand and fracture the company.  
 
So my final word is treat social media as the great resource it is and create that loyal customer brand you need to grow a big organization.  Use Apple as an example of what can be done when social media is given the resources it deserves.  
 
Tony Kihl 

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