LAKELAND AND TAMPA, FLORIDA‒ At $35 a share, Facebook’s initial public offering is the biggest opening for a tech company to date. That hefty price tag comes as little surprise when considering the impact social media has had on how we communicate and do business.
With more than 900 million monthly active users on Facebook alone, according to Forbes, it seems archaic for a business to attempt reaching their full potential without utilizing this valuable tool.
Lorrie Walker is the owner of Lorrie Walker Communications, Inc., a Lakeland public relations firm, and an advocate for social media use in businesses.
“In this day and age, there are so many outlets available for people to spout-off if they’re unhappy or to praise a company when they are pleased,” said Walker. “Regardless of whether the feedback is positive or negative, a company can use those candid comments to their advantage.”
No matter the size of the business, social media can provide numerous benefits. This is our accumulated list of the top four reasons every company needs to go social.
1. Become Visible
Participating in social media and blogs regularly allows for a company and its brand to become a part of its audience’s daily routine, according to the website Small Business Trends.
Visibility is crucial in ensuring that whenever your Twitter followers or Facebook fans require a service, your business is first to come to mind.
2. Increase Transparency
It might seem contradictory that social media can provide visibility and transparency for a company, but that is exactly what it does. Some companies might feel that if they open up a forum for discussion, they might get negative feedback.
Even though it seems bad, negative commentary actually provides your business with the opportunity to improve, and to possibly show those with disparaging opinions that your company hears their voice and is trying to change.
“The key is to address the conflict directly and openly,” said Walker. “Businesses can turn around issues by building a relationship with not only the person who posted the comment, but all of their other followers as well.”
3. Develop a Community
When you start to build those crucial, two-way relationships, you develop a thriving community. Walker went on to say the freedom of anonymity is one of the many benefits of consumers voicing their views on social media sites because they feel a freedom to speak their mind that is often unattainable with face-to-face interactions.
Once the issues are addressed, you start to share a deeper dialogue by increasing the number of voices, according to Small Business Trends.
“You can even see that if someone insults a company unjustly, using social media, that company’s other followers often will jump to its defense,” said Walker.
4. Increase Credibility
You can tell your public how wonderful your service or product is, but they won’t believe you until they try it for themselves. The same holds true in social media. Third-party endorsements are viewed as more credible because they are from consumers, for consumers.
Even if negative comments are shared, responding in a timely and efficient manner will help increase your company’s credibility. Consumers are more likely to forgive a company’s shortcoming if they are open about their mistake and work hard to fix it.
“Social media means being social, and that means that your company needs to be a part of it,” said Walker.
If the business is large but you don’t have extra manpower to dedicate to social media affairs, there are several reputable businesses that can handle that for you.
However, Walker recommends small businesses do their own social media if possible because that is when the interactions with customers will be most authentic. Since small businesses usually handle their interactions with their clients face-to-face, it makes sense to carry that relationship over to the world of the Internet.
In the end, social media is merely another outlet for communication that can help spread awareness and increase your company’s productivity. We live in a culture dependent on Internet, which makes now the opportune time to finally get social.