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Why every business MUST care about social media!

Last updated on: August 16, 2010 11:51 IST

Pradeep Chopra

Social media is no more a buzzword today. Given the rate at which it is growing and the impact it is making in our everyday lives, we will soon see the answer to this question: 'Why should I care about social media?'

Over the last three years, I have closely observed and actively used this medium, as one of the most powerful tools to solve and address multiple business challenges, ranging from hiring an employee to acquiring a new customer.

In the following pages are my learnings and points of view on why should a business pay attention to and invest in social media. . . .

The author is the CEO of Digital Vidya.

Why every business MUST care about social media!

Statistics speak loudly: Given the volume of action on social media web sites, as measured by some of the key statistics mentioned below, it is evident that social media is no more a small or niche medium:

1. Radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users, TV took 13 years, Internet took 4 years, iPod 3 years and Facebook reached over 200 million users in less than a year.

2. The top two Twitter accounts -- Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears -- have more followers than the entire populations of Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Austria and Panama.

3. Wikipedia has more than 15 million articles out of which over 75 per cent are non-English.

4. There are over 200 million blogs.

5. YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world.

6. Social media has overtaken pornography as the most popular activity on the web.

. . .

Why every business MUST care about social media!

There are endless reasons to use social media: Contrary to normal belief, social media is much more than just a channel to acquire new customers.

Here are some of the key business objectives, which can be met using social media:

CRM (Customer Relationship Management): Whether you want to continuously engage with your customers, take their feedback or provide them support, social media is a great tool. Dell is a classic example of using social media (especially Twitter and Blogs) to transform their customer's experience.

ORM (Online Reputation Management): Social media has given the power of media in the hands of an ordinary user. More and more people will continue to express their opinions about a brand, a product or a service on tools like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn. I don't think that brands have a choice to not listen to the conversations about them. ICICI Bank is an interesting example of a large Indian brand, which is doing a great job in effectively managing its reputation in the digital world, especially through Twitter.

Brand Building and Promotion: Social media is all about 'word of mouth', 'building relationships' and 'conversations'. Where else can a brand get an opportunity to promote itself than on social media? Ching's Secret is a great example of leveraging social media for brand promotion.

B2B Lead Generation: Given more and more professionals (LinkedIn has over 75 million users in over 200 countries) will continue to spend their precious time on social media, almost every organisation has an opportunity leverage this medium for lead generation. Evalueserve, a company who coined the term KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) has highly effectively used Social Media as a great B2B Lead generation tool to acquire global customers.

Crowdsourcing: What can be a better choice than to include your customers and users in the creation of a product or a service? That's what 'crowdsourcing' refers to and that's what Social Media makes available. Among various examples, Starbucks asking their community members to provide inputs on the next coffee flavour, is an interesting one.

Human Resources: In addition to employee engagement (like CRM), social media is a great medium to hire new employees. It is not surprising that LinkedIn Profile is increasingly replacing conventional resume.

. . .

Why every business MUST care about social media!

Timings can't be better than today: The last but the most important reason to care about social media today is the timing. Given that only a few brands in few industry verticals have started to give a serious look to social media, the opportunity for early movers is immense.

I would like to share a personal example here. We happened to use search engine optimisation (SEO) way back in year 2000, for our first business. Today, I would know ten times of what I knew about search engine optimisation in 2000 but the returns on investment then were ten times more than what we get today.

Why? Obviously for the timing; we were among the early adopters of SEO. So, can be you for social media!

Do you need more and better reasons to start embracing social media? Honestly, I don't think so! You will not get a better opportunity to leverage social media than today. Embrace this medium before it's too late.

The author is the CEO of Digital Vidya.