Week 7: Social Media in Business

Each week a question is asked to the students of Digital Media in Practice – A course in the Ryerson MBA program.  The question relates to assigned readings and focuses on different aspects of digital media.

This week we reviewed chapters 7 through 10 of  Marketing 3.0.

What are the potential benefits of web 2.0 social media applications in a business context?
The most significant business benefit that comest to my mind about social media is the ability to give your customers the opportunity to speak about your brand – this is assuming that you have a positive reputation with your customers.  For a company that cares about its product and its customers, social media can act like word of mouth recommendations on steroids.  Using another example from the world of post secondary education, when current students publicly display positive (or negative) messages about their school, they are broadcasting a very powerful message to prospective students.
Along that same thought, social media networks allow the message of a company to be spread wider while becoming more focused – in a perfect world anyways.  Any time a Facebook user shares a link about some specific service or product, all of their connections will see that message.  Since they are in the same social arena there is a higher chance that they will share the values / opinions / likes as the original poster and act on that recommendation.
Social media applications can be used as a quick way to gauge customer opinion and gather feedback.  My Starbucks Idea is the most cited example, but there are numerous other uses.
Finally, speed is an incredible benefit for businesses.  If an organization has a large following in the world of social media, important messages can be distributed quickly, VERY quickly.
How is communicating with customers using social media technologies different from previous customer-oriented communication?
Timelines and response time shifts when communicating using social media.  Most businesses are used to interacting with customers during their regular business hours.  In the world of social media, customers will interact with the online presence of a company at every time of the day and night.  If not resourced properly, a comment posted at 5:01pm on a Friday can spin out of control all weekend until 8:30am Monday.
The communication style, or voice, is also a lot different when using social media.  It is generally accepted that a company can be more playful in comparison to traditional formats.

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