8 Ways Businesses Should Use Social Media

Many businesses hear about the advantages of social media in terms of marketing their products or services, but some forget to look at other major benefits of social media beyond finding leads or making a sale. Here are eight ways that businesses can use social media to learn more about themselves and their industry as well as get more involved with their clients and communities interested in what they have to offer.

1. Monitor Conversation About Themselves

There are many free ways to monitor what people are saying about your company through social media, including the following:

Google Alerts
Google Alerts will send you a daily digest email anytime your search terms come up in blogs, news, or other websites.

Social Mention
Social Mention monitors 100+ social media properties directly including: Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc. You can have your mentions emailed to you daily.

Twitter Search
If you want to know real time what people are saying, you can setup a Twitter search in HootSuite, Tweetdeck, or just keep a RSS feed in your feed reader using Twitter search results. Include searches for your company, business owner, or unique product name.

2. Keep Up to Date on Their Industry

Along with keeping up with what is being said about your brand, as anyone with a business administration degree would tell you, you should also keep up to date on current events and news that affects your industry as a whole. While there have been good company reactions to industry issues, such as pet food brands that assured their customers that their food was tested and 100% safe during the recalls and Toyota continuing to address their recalls assuring customers they are working to resolve the problems, I have seen some other fails where there was obviously no attention by the companies given to current events such as:

  • Auto warranty companies continuing their usual advertising while stories of auto warranty scams were on the rise.
  • A hotel chain in Hawaii sending out “last minute deals” about an hour before the tsunami was supposed to hit the islands.

If you’re keeping up with how the public feels about your industry, you can reformulate your next announcements and advertising to boost the confidence in your company even in the midst of a negative wave. In the above examples:

  • The auto warranty companies could add facts to their advertisements which would prove their authenticity above the scammers so people could trust them.
  • The hotel chain could have simply sent out updates on the conditions and reassure the public once the threat was over that it was safe enough to take advantage of their special rates.

3. Give Great Customer Service

One great way to use social media is for customer service. For example, if you have a Facebook Page setup, your customers might ask specific product questions. Answering them right on the page not only gives them the info they want right away, but shows other fans / potential clients that you are a readily available to help, as well as provide an answer to a question that other clients might want to ask.

4. Provide Emergency Updates

Lately, the way to find out if something is not working is to make a quick search on Twitter. The last time I couldn’t get into my Gmail, I went straight over to Twitter to see if others were having the same problem or if it was just me – it was the former, so I knew there wasn’t an account issue.

Customer service is never more important than during times of crisis. Codero managed web hosting is a good example how a company turned to real time social media updates when their servers had a power glitch which left their customers’ websites down. Codero used their Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube to update their clients on the situation that was affecting their web servers.

Another example of social media usage for crisis communication is how Ari Herzog, a Newburyport City Councilman, used Twitter to update those affected by a power outage using the Newburyport hashtag (#NBPT). Those following the latest news on their mobile Twitter apps were able to let their neighbors know about any updates to the power situation.

Since many people now turn to Twitter to voice their complaints and concerns, those that respond through the same media show both their followers and others who are watching the events unfold that they are interested in helping their followers quickly. It helps add a positive light to a bad situation.

5. Gain Customer Feedback and Opinion

Social media can be a great research tool. If your company has unveiled a new product or service, maybe your customers will be talking about what they think about it in real time. I’m sure that Coca-Cola monitors any comments on their latest drinks to see if people are enjoying it or hating it, which affects whether they will continue to produce a specific flavor or try out a new one. You can also query your followers to ask them their opinion on a future product to get their insight before it even goes into development so you can create something that you know others will be interested in.

6. Move Positive Information to the Top

Reputation management via social media can be a great way to boost positive information about your business to the top of search results in an attempt to get negative results off of the list. So if your company had a negative review placed on sites such as Rip Off Report or individual blogs, the best way to counter it is to have your company website, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social profiles ranking higher than that bad entry. It only takes ten strong, positive items to bump that bad one off of the first page.

7. Drive Traffic to Their Website

Social media can certainly help boost the traffic going to your website in a variety of ways. If you have a regularly updated corporate blog, you can post your blog articles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and social bookmarking sites, which should help drive visitors to your post and then onward to your main site for products and services.

Also, you can monitor people talking about the products and services you offer and respond to them with your link if it helps answer their questions. Just recently, I mentioned migraines, and someone sent me an @mention with a link to learn more about natural homeopathic migraine remedies. You just have to make sure that what you are sending will be absolutely helpful to the person you are replying to, and not look too much like a blatant advertisement (ie. maybe send a blog post link instead of a link to a product page unless some specifically says “I want to buy ___, where can I find it.”)

8. Create a Reference Library

Social bookmarking makes it easy to create a reference library of any news / press releases / mentions of your company. Simply use your Social Mention alerts to find the places online that talk about you, and use sites like Delicious to bookmark them. This helps you keep track of all the talk about your company, as well as boost the article by giving it the bookmark.

More Tips on Social Media for Business

Looking for more ideas on how to use social networking for business? Check out this post on business social networking by a blogger whose focus is on helping small businesses use online marketing more efficiently and effectively.

Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media for Business

For a more visual representation on more social media tips for business, check out this awesome infographic.

Your Thoughts on Social Media Usage for Businesses

Do you have a business that you use social media as an avenue to connect with clients? Or do you know of a business that does a great job using social media? Let us know in the comments!

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Comments

  1. says

    Kristi Hines – This is a great write-up. Socialmention engine is great! I figured out I lack social media connection, but that’s due to the insufficient time. I try to be as productive as I can during my stay on the web and the point of monitoring conversation was rightly explained.
    .-= New from Rockstar Sid How to Speed-up Your Mac [Performance Guide] =-.

    • says

      One thing I explained to a dental company was how to setup a search on Twitter for their city and dentist. They were surprised to see lots of people just querying their friends on what dentist they should go to or who was in their area, and they were easily able to respond with their business. Once you get the setup and system down, responding can be done in just a bit of time per day.

      • says

        Cool story, Kristi. A lot of people don’t realize the power and possibilities of social networking today. That is a great example of that.

        Till then,

        Jean

  2. says

    Since companies want to market their products and services they must go to the market, and not wait for it to come to them!

    I look to Social Media as a new wide market that you can really help you sell!

    I like points 4 & 5 “Provide Emergency Updates” and “Gain Customer Feedback and Opinion” I think this is working right now through Social Media!

    The point 3 “Give Great Customer Service”… this is what businesses really should think about!

    Very informative resource, this will help on writing my new e-book!

    And hey, thank you so much for the great feedback, I have followed your advice and fixed my link problem ;)
    .-= New from Hesham @ FamousBloggers How to Get Targeted Twitter Followers Fast =-.

    • says

      I think the companies that are using social media the right way, beyond just advertising, are the most successful. And I’m glad the fix helped – I find that posts I have included in a lot of commentluv links are the ones that get the most traffic and SEO benefits.

      • Jane Gray says

        I agree with your article and hate the kind of marketer that you’re replying to. I don’t mind or even appreciate companies using social media the ways that you describe (as a tool for communication and feedback). However, I despise people trying to convince every real estate agent, contractor, and widget manufacturer that making a page on Facebook is the millenial way to double their businesses. They sell them on the idea that their customers just can’t wait to join the “I <3 Ron's Extermination Nation" facebook group and this is detrimental to their business as it's really aggravating to said customers.

    • says

      I agree, being able to provide great customer service just cannot be underestimated. And monitoring social mentions to help you out in this area is a really great idea.

      One important point not to forget is that you don’t need to wait for something negative to come up before you interact with your customers. Use social media to interact with customers that are “bigging you up” too.

      I think you can get a lot from basing your social media strategy on providing great customer service first, because this can drive tons of traffic to your website/ blog naturally. If you’re looking to drive traffic first, and just do a bit of “customer service” work on the side, you might find the traffic harder to come by.
      David just posted SEO Services

    • says

      Definitely. I have found the trend is more businesses respond to you if you contact them on social media vs. email. I think more businesses are starting to recognize that how easy it is for a person with thousands of followers to say something about their company – and they want that something to be good. A good response from them might prompt a good tweet about their brand, and vice versa for a bad response (or none at all).

  3. says

    First of all congratulations on this great post. I think that a key component of your social media marketing is knowing what works best for you and focusing solely on it. It is not necessary to have Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc, etc, accounts, just focus on the ones that give you the best results. I’ve found out that missing this point is a common mistake, business owners get blinded by the buzz and want to benefit from all the social media tools at once, but end up getting nothing. For more on this I highly recommend reading Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae, which explains my point in depth.

    • says

      Great point! Some companies think they have to be everywhere to be successful, when really you end up spreading yourself too thin. Thanks for the book recommendation as well!

  4. says

    The one point you mention that I have heard a lot is the ability to monitor conversations about your – but for some reason I never get around to setting up Google Alerts.

    Do you get many people talking about you?

    • says

      As a blogger, Google Alerts and Social Mention help me keep track of where I am mentioned, such as other bloggers who include me in lists or add links to my posts. It has also helped me find sites that have stolen my content and reposted it elsewhere.

      For a business, it could be a good thing to monitor who is talking about them (or perhaps a company owner or product), as they may not necessarily link to your site or reply directly to you on Twitter. If someone writes something negative, you would want to be able to come in and defend yourself in the comments or privately to the author. If someone writes something positive, you may want to share it with your followers or bookmark it as a good mention.

  5. says

    What goes around comes around.

    Way back when, building a library of links was one of the most useful parts of the brand new web. It wasn’t that hard actually.

    Then it got really hard.

    Now it’s getting easier again with all the social bookmarking services.

    If I could remember that I stash my best content on Delicious and StumbleUpon, I’d be all set.
    .-= New from Dave Doolin @ Website In A Weekend How To Publish The **** Out Of Your Blog Post =-.

    • says

      I try to remember to add articles I would like to reference again in Delicious or StumbleUpon. The key is to use tags that way you don’t have to go through pages and pages of bookmarks to find one particular thing.

    • says

      I hope these tips will come in handy when the time comes to do great things with social media for your business!

  6. says

    I prefer to use the Google Alert to monitor what people are talking about with relevant keywords. I can get many updated news and information from Google Alert everyday. I would say that blogging is a business for me too. All my readers are my clients. I need to do the audience study as well so that i can provide the best service to my readers.
    .-= New from KS Chen @ Google Adsense Tips Win the Prizes for SEO =-.

    • says

      That is a good point… bloggers can consider their readers are their clients, and that makes every one of the above notes applicable, even the crisis management part, as there have been times I have run into a blogger’s site that has been down and naturally went to their Twitter and Facebook for news about the outage.

  7. says

    The challenge now is not just to get into social media for businesses, but to find out what will work best for them. :-) These are real fine ideas, sometimes it’s overwhelming to be everywhere, anytime; but knowing our focus will put us back on the right track. To start using social media with a goal – should be firstly identified.
    Again, you’ve been a good advise in this matter. Bravo, Kristi.

    @wchingya
    Social/Blogging Tracker
    .-= New from Ching Ya@Social Media Blogging 4 Major Tips to Personalize Your Twitter Background =-.

    • says

      Exactly. Some businesses will benefit from using social media for customer service, while others will benefit from using it to share industry news with their clients. Knowing what will work and where your clients will be on social media (Twitter vs. Facebook, Facebook vs. Youtube) will help businesses focus on the right medium, making them more successful.

  8. says

    Very nice input Kristi. We can use social media site for two different expect, for SEO we can use social media site build backlinks by submitting nice story or other expect is for drive targeted traffic from social media site.

    Managing all social media profile is very important, if we do not active on social media site then we can not expect traffic from there.
    .-= New from chandan@work at home jobs Make money blogging take time =-.

    • says

      That is a good point for businesses. You can’t just setup a great profile and expect traffic and fans – you have to be really engaging and active on the network before you can start reaping the benefits.

    • says

      Social networking was seemingly reserved for teens and college students, but now that there are business and professional benefits for social media, people of all demographics are now onboard, which means almost everyone can find an audience for their business or blog if they know where to look and what to do to engage them.

  9. says

    Great article as always! I think number 3 is almost always overlooked not just in social media but in everything. Some create a product, create a website about it, advertise it, sell it and it stops there. They fail to give support or answer questions regarding their product. They’ve made a sale and that’s it, but, it should not be the case. Great and satisfactory customer service is still one of the key to creating loyal and keep-coming-back customers. With customer service, you’ll be able to make a good mark in customer’s minds and you’ll be able to promote yourself through word of mouth from this customers that have experienced your satisfactory customer service. That would be great!
    .-= New from Andrew@BloggingGuide How to Get All the Free Traffic You Want =-.

    • says

      I think giving good customer service (pre and post sales) gives potential customers more faith in the business / brand, which will definitely help towards increasing more sales.

  10. says

    Hi,
    Thanks for the post, I really found the tracking your mentions of a thing, I just visited social mention, using their search tool the result i found was great.
    I will begin to use google alert to track topics in order to boost my knowledge.
    Thanks for the great post.
    BTW: I already sent you a guest post.
    Thanks.
    .-= New from Onibalusi Bamidele Study your audience =-.

  11. says

    Awesome post, Kristi! Thanks for sharing Social Mention — I hadn’t heard of that one before. Also, #4 – Doing Emergency Updates – I just had to flash some info to users through Twitter / FB to alert them of a problem we’re having. It works great! Nice job!

  12. says

    My current employer has us put links to our company twitter account and facebook page in our email signatures. I have seen quite a few businesses that don’t promote their presence on social sites despite having accounts. We have a competitor that is fairly active on Twitter with no mention of Twitter anywhere on their website and very few followers. So my tip would be don’t neglect building a following and make sure you tell people where to find you. It’s not enough just to sign up.
    .-= New from Chris@Tires on Sale Tire Safety =-.

    • says

      I think that companies should be promoting their social profile links more… I hear some businesses complain that they don’t have many followers, but then I go to their site and see no social icons. I would bet if they just added them to their newsletters and outgoing emails they would double or triple their followers easily.

  13. says

    Well, I consider myself a future one-man business, but I still most of the tips you’re providing. But it sounds all sooo frickin’ complex the way you present it here, I just use Twitter and tweetdeck as my primary force of promotion. I think it’s much more important to focus your PRECIOUS energy into few services.
    Being everywhere is simply impossible, and highly ineffective !
    .-= New from Mars Dorian What Super Mario can teach You about Branding ! =-.

    • says

      Sorry to make them sound complicated. Most of these things can be accomplished on just one network, like Twitter. Everything but the bookmarking library. I think about being on the three top networks simply because you never know which network your target audience is most likely to respond to you through without giving them a try though.

  14. says

    Hi Kristi

    I know that everyone says great post, but I really enjoyed your writing here. You refer to your own experiences and illustrate your work with excellent examples. It feels real so thank you.

    You are absolutely right in pointing that the owners of most businesses do not have a thorough understanding of the possible uses of social media. While I don’t think that social media works for every organization, I do think that the 8 ways you identify would be a great starting point for businesses contemplating the use of social media. In fact they would provide a perfect outline to any business writing their objectives for a social media marketing strategy.

    Thanks again for the post.
    Phil
    .-= New from Phil Powdrill @ Online Business If you register your site for free at =-.

  15. says

    Local business should especially take full advantage of local searches on Google/Yahoo and make sure that they have good reviews going for their business, and should do a general search to see what other sites are saying about their business. And if at all possible they should get themselves more positive reviews ;-) I know for myself when I go out, I do check to see what the reviews are saying about places, and if its bad reviews, I will likely not go, but if its got awesome reviews, thats more incentive for me to go! :D
    .-= New from Car Battery How a Does a Car Battery Work? =-.

  16. says

    I’ve just signed up to Google Alerts and I’ve already received an email with a bunch of topical posts. It seems like this might also be a good way to find blogs who may be looking for guest posts.
    .-= New from Jake@Hypnosis MP3s Ask The Hypnotherapist #20 =-.

  17. says

    All great points. I’ve done all of those for my small business. Something I mentioned in a comment I just posted is mobile phone marketing. This is going to be more important than any social media channel. If a business can integrate the two… that will be very effective. You can check out my blog since I recently made a page about how important it will be. I’d like to hear your opinion Kristi.
    .-= New from Innovatively Simple Things I’d Rather Do #2 =-.

  18. says

    I actually use Google Alert quit a lot for getting new ideas on blog posts. Just reading the newest stuff in your niche is enough to get the creative juices flowing.

    Also like the customer service idea. Especially for me it’s important to stay in contact with potential buyers also after they bought something. Using Facebook they can ask me anytime!
    .-= New from Alex@Zahnaufheller Zahnseide FAQ: Wie verwende ich Zahnseide richtig? =-.

  19. says

    These are truly the main essential factors in raking in great profits for a business. Without connecting with your customer base via feedback and discussion, an expansion would be difficult. Providing excellent services only assures customers about the brand they rely on. A systematic approach as mentioned in your post, is exactly what businesses need to pay heed to, in order to develop the company and build brand loyalty.

  20. says

    Its great to read a good post which comprehensively tells you how to use social media and why. You keep hearing how social media is important and that it is a must. Few people though go into any depth about the hows and whys.

  21. says

    Great summary. I think the other thing that should not be underestimated is the opportunity to use social media to LEARN. If you sell real estate, you can learn how to network and find leads. If you manufacture widgets, you can learn about new production technology. If you run a restaurant, you can learn good hiring techniques for wait staff. And on it goes. People need to think about social networking (in addition to the tips you have provided) as an opportunity to be involved in conversations that allow you to share knowledge, but also to consume knowledge.

  22. says

    Yes! I actually do have a business that uses social media as an avenue to connect with clients. I believe that social media sites are the best way to interact with prospective clients. I consider Social Media as another means of advertising medium. Surely, it is indeed rewarding to promote your offers using these types of sites, but a great return on investment can only be obtained by creating groups, publishing valuable articles, conversing and being attentive with what your customers say about your products and services.

  23. says

    Massive awesome points in this article. I love to play with social media when it comes to titles and mentioning content too. Chris G. is amazing to watch for this kind of thing. He’ll do a twitter blast with a bunch of tweets, all to the same article, but with different ways to tease people into reading it.

    It’s awesome and I’ve noticed it. Picking up on it was the most exciting day – my days are pretty awesome huh?
    Scott Webb just posted Instagram Meetup- 3 Strong and Proud

  24. says

    I think #1 and #3 need to be connected, and I think that’s one of the biggest failings I keep seeing on Twitter. Companies might be following their businesses but very few seem to know how to handle customer complaints in the open field and thus they fail miserably when the consumer lambastes them publicly. This is a battle I’ve had with a couple of businesses on Twitter, and it’s a major shame.
    Mitch Mitchell just posted SEO Your Blog Two Quick Fixes