How to Integrate Social Media into your Business Strategy

Social media on SmartphoneAlthough many forward-thinking companies have recognized the importance of adding social media to their corporate strategy, it can be confusing to determine which platform is most appropriate to use.  But with just a little insight into who uses each platform, you will be able to easily determine which one(s) will best help your company maintain communications with existing clients – and allow you to reach out to a whole new group of potential customers.

A career-oriented site where middle to upper-class professionals network with colleagues and share achievements and credentials, LinkedIn has close to 200 million users worldwide. Most LinkedIn users are middle-aged, college educated, and have a high income (almost half have an annual household income over $100,000).  So for converters, the best use of LinkedIn is to have your key sales personnel maintain a profile on the site so they can not only research prospective customers but also determine if existing customers are ready to make a purchase.

Twitter, on the other hand, is a platform through which users publish short messages (called “tweets”) for other users to read, usually over a smartphone.  With a much larger community than LinkedIn (over 500 million users), more than half follow companies, brands, or products, checking in several times a day.

Growth on this social media platform has been highest amongst 18 to 24 year olds, with the most active users being urban-dwellers.  So if your customers are young urbanites, or if you’d like to reach a younger crowd, it would be worthwhile to establish a presence on Twitter. Just make sure to assign someone on staff who has the time and ability to research and “tweet” short factoids several times a week about industry news, upcoming events, or special promotions.

Last but not least is Facebook, a platform where users share personal information, video, photos, and even viewpoints with friends, family, and colleagues.  Facebook has a billion users across the globe, with 143 million users in the U.S. alone.  The typical Facebook user is 40 years old, has some college education, and an income of between $50,000 and $100,000 a year.

Like Twitter, Facebook is also an environment where companies, brands, and products can garner huge exposure.  In fact, almost half (47%) of those who use social media say Facebook has the greatest impact on purchasing behavior.  So if you want to drive purchasing, statistically speaking, Facebook is the superior social medium for selling your products or serves and communicating with consumers.

Social Media as a Business Strategy

On the topic of social media for business, content strategist Lee Odden notes, “Companies that make investments in better connecting with their customers (via social media) have a distinct advantage over those that are resolved to wait and see.”  What he does not mention, however, is that building an online presence can take years.  Fortunately, building an online strategy is free, does not take an immense time commitment, and statistics show that participation will improve your company’s image in the eyes of your employees, consumers, and customers.

For instance, 94% of social media users report that a brand’s image is enhanced when a company participates in social media.  For brand owners, this is great news.  For paper mills, however, social media is probably not a viable a way to sell paper; rather, it should be utilized as a vehicle for showcasing your staff’s expertise, educating consumers, and identifying potential customers.

Additionally, social media users will be more apt to visit your website if you offer them an intimate glimpse into the compelling sustainable world of paper via social media.  For instance, over the course of a few weeks you could post on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn photos and descriptive captions of the life of a tree.  Or have someone follow a paper-based package from its inception in the forest, to the paper mill, and then to design, pre-press development, printing, filling, shipping, and display on the store shelf.  From there, you can track the package from the consumer purchase, storage at home, its use (and reuse), and finally, its disposal in the recycling bin and its reuse as a recycled paper product.

By creating compelling, informal social media postings such as these, you will garner attention and portray your company as an industry expert to a worldwide audience of potential customers and consumers.  As David Hauser, co-founder of the virtual phone system Grasshopper, explains, “By interacting with your customers in a less formal way, you’ll establish a strong human connection that helps build brand loyalty.”

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