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IBM Study: How to Make Social Work




IBM has been on a roll lately with interesting information you can use to grow your business. Today, I want to talk about their “The Business of Social Business” report.

We sometimes come down hard on social media, declaring that it’s not the golden goose it’s often made out to be. But the truth is, it’s not social media’s fault, it’s the fault of the social media marketer (myself included, so don’t get all huffy.) When you look at the world of advertising from print, to TV, to banner ads, social media hasn’t been around all that long. The only thing newer is mobile and not by much.

So maybe we’re expecting too much, too soon.

The IBM study takes us back to basics, demonstrating the steps we need to take to make social media marketing work. They break it down into three areas:

  • Create valued customer experiences
  • Drive workforce productivity and effectiveness
  • Accelerate Innovation

 Engage and Listen

If you only get one thing out this post, get this: social media is a two way street. It’s not enough to entertain or inform, you have listen to what your customer is saying and provide a way for them to engage with you and your product.  60% of those who answered IBM’s survey said they use social media to respond to customer inquiries. Posting a question to Twitter or Facebook is the social media version of waving your hand to be recognized. Make sure you’re calling on all your customers on a regular basis. Respond to the good, the bad, the questions you’ve answered a hundred times before. And when they say something nice, acknowledge the effort.

IBM suggests that you regularly mine social media conversations as a way of determining customer preferences and marketing trends. They also suggest you use your communities as mini-focus groups. Finally, locate the influencers in the group and work with them one-on-one. Where they go, others will follow.

Accelerate Innovation

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time to accelerate. One emerging trend is to expand  social media input beyond the walls of the marketing team. Solicit ideas from everyone in the company; the CEO and the part-timer who does the shipping. The joy of social media is that it’s fast and fluid. You can try an idea today, see the results tomorrow and then adjust your strategy accordingly.

Social media hasn’t been around very long but many of us are already stuck in the same routine. Frank recently posted a study that shows 70% of business pages aren’t being updated at all. I know, it’s more work than you thought it would be, for not a lot of return, but don’t walk away yet. With some creativity and the help of a few key influencers, social media could become an integral part of the success of your business.

IBM’s “The Business of Social Business” is free and it has several informative case studies to inspire you. Give them your contact information and they’ll give you the report.