How businesses can best use social media in 2012

Social media is racing along like there’s no tomorrow. Formats are changing, apps updating, new sites launching as fast as you can say “What’s this new Twitter all about then?”

But where does this leave businesses that are looking to use social media as a big part of their strategy in 2012? How can they stay on top of developments?
To start with, it’s vital businesses that aren’t using social media start asap.

For businesses that don’t start embracing social media, 2012 may mark the beginning of their decline. Research shows that 37.4 million UK adults use Facebook regularly, 15.5 million on Twitter.
It’s not something that any ambitious business owner can afford to ignore.
For the sake of this article, I’ll have a look at what can be expected in 2012, focusing on those who are already using social media networks as part of their CRM or marketing strategy:

Focus on cultivating a ‘social business culture’ – whatever the size of your business

It’s been predicted that social business is the model that will be adopted by businesses in the near future and social media will play a key part in this. Internal cooperation and ownership can empower every employee in terms of operating and running digital and social media. Social media is more than simply marketing, it’s the whole way brands react with the outside world and how they can show themselves to be cooperative and have a strong willingness to help consumers. This will go well beyond social media into a new era of collaboration, company analysis and lead generation.

Location-based messaging

As more and more people adapt to using social media on their smartphones, location-based messaging between businesses and consumers will increase. The contact will be initiated by the consumer as they check their networks and those around them and share their thoughts, opinions and needs with each other and businesses.

Accountability and ethics

Many businesses have been (or still are) unwilling to fully use social media networks due to the fear that they will be ‘caught out’ or ‘exposed’ in some way by unhappy consumers. Well, you know what they say, if you’ve nothing to hide….

Seriously though, if you’re still thinking like this, you’re way behind the way the world is going. Sure there have been some badly-managed social media disasters (Quantas comes to mind) but the most sophisticated brands will be aiming to increase transparency in 2012 and want to contribute to the world in a positive way and create strong community who can see themselves as part of the brand’s success.

Monitoring and Analytics

More companies will move towards using analytics and social monitoring to help them get to grips with who are the main influencers regarding their brand, where their customers are online and what kind of people are looking to buy their brand. This helps improve customer service and increase understanding of what works and what doesn’t  This can be integrated into their plan so they know how to create relationships and dialogue with their customers via the various channels they use.

Most of all…

Enjoy social media. Enjoy all it has to offer and be excited to be part of such a major shift in terms of how business relationships are formed. The rest will then come easy.
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