Social media has changed the way we interact, the way we think, the way we learn about and perceive the world. It’s only natural that social media has also changed the way business is done. It promotes a connection between the consumer and the producer that’s more intimate, more engaged, and more powerful than ever before.
The intersection of business and social media is still a new, wide-open field where a fresh idea or approach can reap rewards.
Companies are searching for new ways to promote their brand and message over social media, new ways to reach customers in an ever more targeted fashion, and new ways to collect feedback on their products and marketing efforts. Social media is a powerful tool for getting a message out, but that comes with a price: so many other competitors are doing the same thing, it’s easy for your message to get lost in the noise. The businesses that are most successful at using social media are the ones who can produce a steady stream of content that stands out from the pack.
Just as social media can help get positive word out, it can also hurt a company’s reputation. Bad reviews and criticism can be picked up and rapidly magnified over social networks. Businesses, especially larger companies that are often in the public eye, have learned that they can’t safeguard their reputation by the old methods of public relations. Increasingly, skills in search engine optimization and reputation management are in demand by businesses that need to get out ahead of bad word of mouth and ensure that their online and social media presence is secure.
For businesses looking to the future, social media is more than just communication. It’s a limitless and invaluable source of statistics that can drive marketing more accurately than ever before. Businesses that can collect and properly interpret the “big data” that social media makes available will be able to sell better than their competitors. Even small businesses now have access to a wealth of marketing data that the largest corporations of the past would have envied.
It may seem that anyone can get a job in social media. After all, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and other sites are popular precisely because they have low barriers to entry and are easy to use for just about anyone. But there’s a difference between updating your own Facebook page and maintaining and protecting a business’s brand online. Effectively using social media to enhance and profit a business requires a broad range of knowledge. Businesses will look for social media managers who understand traditional marketing and advertising, consumer psychology, and demographics, and who can quickly produce interesting content. In this rapidly changing field, it’s also important to understand the technology and keep abreast of new developments and new platforms as they arise. All of this requires a specific, and still evolving, form of training, but those skills will be invaluable to businesses of the future.