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What is the Value of Social Media in the Business World?

If your business is investing time and money into a social media marketing plan, it’s important to understand that there is more to social media than simply posting to a Facebook page or sharing your content with groups. The social buyer is becoming more discerning, and businesses using social media to drive sales or conversions need to understand how to effectively reach and convert social media contacts to customers.

In a recent article from www.socialmediatoday.com, The Ascent of the Social Buyer, the topic of discussion covered the topics of the social buyer and the value of social commerce. In a nutshell, the article acknowledges that businesses in the B2B social media space need to offer more meaningful and humanized social experiences to their prospects in order to reap the benefits of the updated social engagement index. It is this new index that is setting the bar for B2B companies engaging in social media marketing.

Here are a few key points that provide some insight to the Social Engagement Index whitepaper from the initial survey results:

One Employee Can Make a Big Difference: 62% of respondents noted that between 1 to 5 employees were assigned to social customer service and interaction. 69% of respondents noted that their company has seen a noticeable impact from their social media marketing.

Integrating “Social” with Traditional Services Pays Off.48 percent (12 of 25) have seen very positive results from social engagement. “There appears to be a correlation between the length of time engaged and the degree to which society has been tied to traditional support. Indeed, you would expect to see companies that have been at it longer to be able to effectively tie processes together.”

More Social Interactions, Higher Positive Impact. “60 percent (15 of 25) reporting a very positive impact from engaging with customers over social channels.”

How Does the Social Engagement Index Change Social Media Management?

Keeping the above points in mind, it’s easy to see that the trend from ritualistic Social Media interaction has advanced to real conversations, the real give-and-take between companies and their target markets. While many companies do have some portion of staff involved with their social media, marketing companies are managing about 28% of social media marketing plans for a variety of businesses.

That being said, both internal and outsourced social media marketing needs to be rethought and the investment from the client-side needs to increase in both situations. Prospects and customers need to get quality interactions from the companies they are connected with through social media. To gain the most from this new social media effort, there need to be collaborative efforts between social media providers and their client companies who want to see improved results from their social media investments. Simply put, companies that are investing in social media need to expand that investment to the strategy and content used in their social media, to heighten the value of their interactions.

This isn’t a surprise, except possibly to those businesses that saw social media as a fad. Any marketing plan needs collaboration between the company using the marketing tools and the marketing experts, from print to radio and now to social media. Businesses need to realize that social media is just another vehicle to market their business, not a fad, not a set-it-and-forget-it process, but a viable marketing medium that allows for one-on-one interaction with prospects and existing customers to build the brand recognition and trust that drive Social Commerce.

Later this week, Part II, Evaluating the Value of your Company’s Social Currency

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