The Customer has Spoken – twice: 2 reports on social media business benefits

For the organization still trying to decide whether social media is a trend or a fad and therefore useful for business, consider the following two studies.

From Business.com: The 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study

Ben Hanna, Ph.D. recently authored and published via http://www.business.com this 45-page study, which provides insights into business social media usage provided by nearly 3,000 North American business professionals.  The report covers utilization by individuals as well as adoption by companies.  Here are a few of its observations.

1. Nearly half of all US adults now participate in social networks, and regularly use these networks to find business-relevant information such as product information, peer reviews, and product support.  So many people regularly use social networks that it is impractical to pigeon-hole them demographically and therefore imprudent to dismiss your customers and prospects as not likely users.

The top 3 most popular social networking sites, not surprisingly, are FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Ironically, according to Robert Half International, 54% of company CIOs surveyed ban the use of Facebook and Twitter at work – similar to how they once banned Internet surfing and personal email.

2.  Nearly 65% of respondents reported using social media as part of their normal work routine, including reading blogs, visiting business profiles, or using Twitter to find information and communicate about business related matters.

3.  The most popular use of social media resources for business are:

a – accessing product and service information

  • attending webinars or listening to podcasts (69%)
  • reading ratings/reviews for business products or services (62%)
  • visiting company or product profile pages on social media sites (61%)

b – communicating about product and service information

  • participating in online business communities or forums (51%)
  • reading or downloading business related content on 3rd party content sharing sites (50%)
  • asking questions on Q&A sites (49%)
  • subscribing to RSS feeds of business related news or information sites (35%)
  • Participating in discussions on 3rd party sites (29%)
  • Using Twitter to find or request business related information (29%)

One interesting statistic ought to pop out above: over half of all survey respondents participate in online business communities or forums.   In other words, it is highly likely that your customers and prospects are talking about you, your customers and your competition right now.
 

From MarketingProfs.com: 11 Twitter Success Stories

This paper, available at http://www.marketingprofs.com , provides detailed case studies on 11 companies who measurably achieved their ROI objectives using Twitter as a communications channel.

Examples include building community, managing customer services, selling, prospecting, raising branding and awareness, and fund raising.

The paper is prefaced with a very useful how-to guide called “Essential Twitter Tools” for making use of Twitter-related tools, gadgets and resources to get the most out of Twitter.

~

Have you read these studies?  Are you attaining business benefits through social media?  What results are you getting?   Reply / comment below.

~Ed

Technology destroys and creates

In his Nov 16 2009 Forbes article titled “Churn, Baby, Churn”, http://bit.ly/1aZr0o Brian Wesbury, chief economist at First Trust Portfolios L.P. notes that while unemployment in November 09 is at a 26 year high, the market is much healthier than that statistic would imply.  Here’s how.

Expanding companies and new business starts added 27.9 million jobs in 2008. Contracting companies and business closures cost 31.4 million jobs.  Unemployment claims, the headline-grabbing statistic, is by far a much smaller figure – on the order of 250,000 jobs monthly (annualized rate: 3 million).  The pain, of course, is real if you are among that statistic.

Some of unemployment is due to the recession, and some can be blamed on panic, but technology is wrecking entire companies unable to adapt, while building new ones that can.  That huge jobs “displacement”, while excruciating in terms of its human toll,  is necessary for growth.

Technology eventually wins.  Highway construction jobs created by the recent stimulus plan will not.  They may release pent-up demand similar to the Cash for Clunkers program (which constricted the vehicle supply for Demolition Derby drivers), but that is short-lived.  In the long term, service industries like financial, legal, health care and leisure will be engines of growth – – but they will be delivered in a much more tech-savvy way.

Mr. Wesbury concludes: “Technology is the biggest source of churn – and, in the long run, the greatest source of hope”.

Commentary:

Look at what change technology has wrought for professional occupations like sales, marketing, PR, customer service, and product development.  Crowdsourcing, social media communities, all are indispensable; they make it easier to connect directly for improved results.

Your customers, partners, buyers and employees are on social media.  FaceBook and Google are among the top 5 most heavily trafficked web sites in the US, and in the top 20 worldwide.

Your challenge is to meet up online – in a conversational tone, not marketspeak.  Your customers are out there online, looking for you – and they’ve probably found you and made up their minds already.  Your new challenge is to meet them, listen, learn and adapt.

Will you get found and, if so, what will their impression be?