Is social media the land of arty types, marketers and millennials? Not exclusively. In fact, social media now plays a key role in serious business exchanges, and companies that don’t recognize this risk falling behind competitors and missing out on potentially game changing deals.
The business landscape is undergoing significant changes, with social media seriously affecting how companies do business. This is due in no small part to the fact that consumers are increasingly numerous in expressing their preferences on social networks. And though they’re often less vocal about it than consumers, investors also use social media to research companies and form opinions that directly influence decisions.
A report published by Deloitte in 2013 surveyed 435 professionals involved in corporate development decisions at their organizations, 56% of whom said they used social media to identify target companies. More recent reports suggest that the role social media plays in corporate decision making has only risen since then.
Are They Talking about Me?
There’s little wonder social media is gaining traction as a resource that directly influences business decisions. Quoted in the 2013 Deloitte report John Somorjai, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development for salesforce.com, says: “There’s nothing better than sourcing the opinions of real customers, and what’s great about social media data is you get it unfiltered and up-to-date”.
This reinforces an important point. Whether it’s a prospect, an investor or a company looking to do business, when researching an organization people don’t just look at brand social media accounts; they search for employees and customers who are talking about that organization.
This is something companies should not be afraid of, but that they should embrace. After all, employees and customers are in the best position to communicate about what a company does and how it does it. They can support brand communication initiatives by providing unique, genuine insights that audiences simply won’t get elsewhere.
But why is engaging employees and customers in social media communication a necessary, rather than an optional, strategy? Because whoever researches your company will look for such conversations, and the worst thing that can happen is that they don’t find them. Negative comments and bad buzz can be dealt with – it’s when nobody is talking about you that you really have a problem. So engage those who know your company to vouch for it online, as how your company is received on social media is something that can make or break a deal.