Social Media for Today's Businesses

Ron Corker  |

Social media platforms have experienced explosive growth, catapulting from a 5-percent to 69-percent daily usage rate among American adults. In the U.S., seven out of ten consumers use social media to connect with friends and family members, access news feeds and share digital content. While it was originally a playground for young adults, more older Americans are starting to use the technology, and as social media usage continues to expand, the digital landscape grows more representative of the real-world population. For many, social media is a part of their everyday life.

Business leaders have started to recognize that social media is a powerful channel for reaching American consumers. Social media platforms allow businesses to target consumers geographically, reach a wider audience and achieve more influence with fewer marketing dollars. The old adage that advertisers follow consumer’s eyes holds true in the digital domain. However, it’s important that enterprises understand which platform their ideal consumers use before investing in social media advertising. It’s not necessary for brands to maintain a presence on every social media platform. However, it is important to find out which platforms consumers use, research how each one works and become familiar with the preferences of various demographic groups.

A Powerful New Resource for Customer Service

Social media has proven highly effective at helping brands build strong relationships with consumers. The demand for social media customer service is rising as consumers spend more time on digital platforms. In fact, 67-percent of American consumers use social media for customer service inquiries.

Enterprise leaders are increasingly implementing social media platforms as

a powerful, effective resource for delivering customer service. The technology gives businesses the opportunity to provide instant customer service, build brand credibility and professionalism and increase overall exposure. It has proven itself as an effective resource for improving customer relations and extending brand presence. The technology is an invaluable tool for customer service in a marketplace where the average consumer will only wait minutes for a response. Social platforms are fast and offer transparency. Furthermore, social media customer service engagements cost approximately $1, whereas traditional telephone customer service costs enterprises $6 for each interaction.

Social Media for the Finance Industry

While the financial services sector has been slow to implement social media engagement, consumer demand for online interaction

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has more firms applying the technology. Because more wealthy individuals use social media compared to the general population, the resource is an ideal fit for financial firms.

There are many applications for social media implementation in the finance industry. However, it's vital that financial firms manage their online presence meticulously, as experiences and opinions weigh heavily with investors. Additionally, it’s critical that financial firms ensure that their online activities are legally compliant. To maintain credibility with consumers, it’s important that financial firms do not censor testimonials, but instead focus on delivering quality services and effectively satisfying any consumer concerns that may arise. Also, financial enterprises must be careful not to publish social media content that consumers might view as professional advice.

Financial service enterprises establish Written Supervisory Procedures (WSPs) and keep a record of all electronic communications to maintain compliance with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). It’s also important for financial firms to establish clear policies regarding who is authorized to publish social media messages as well as who is accountable for engagement outcomes. Because of the sensitive nature of using social media in the financial field, it’s also especially vital for financial enterprises to establish ongoing monitoring and reviews of all digital media assets.

A Glimpse at the Road Ahead

The Facebook FB social media platform has reported its highest earnings in history, despite a recent government investigation regarding a massive security breach that exposed the private information of up to 50 million users. Even amid this crisis, the firm is running out of advertising space, prompting the company to raise its fees for the service. As advertising fees climb, Facebook reports that their consumer audience has surpassed 2 billion monthly users. This kind of statistic is increasing awareness among enterprise leaders that social media is a highly effective resource for engaging with consumers, and experts forecast that this trend will continue.

Social media is maturing, and changes loom on the horizon. As platforms expand their influence with consumer audiences, organic digital clout has dropped to a mere 2-percent; to reach today’s consumers on social media, enterprises must spend advertising dollars. Furthermore, looming and imminent policy changes promise to eliminate the relatively infinitesimal organic reach that remains for enterprises.

The Cisco CSCO networking firm forecasts that video content will soon consume 82-percent of the social media audience’s attention. However, many enterprises are still mastering the art of encouraging consumers to take desired actions after viewing content. With all the changes afoot, analysts predict that social media will undergo a rapid evolution in the coming years.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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