How to Design an Effective Social Business Model
Social media offers huge rewards to businesses that are willing to put in the necessary effort. This is the reason why more and more businesses are now integrating social media into their marketing campaigns. The problem is that many businesses fail to take advantage of the medium in crafting an effective business model. This was the subject of a study conducted by Brian Solis and Charlene Li.
According to the report submitted after the study, there are two things a company needs to bear in mind when crafting a social business model:
- You should refrain from viewing social media as just another tool. Just like your main business strategy, your social media strategy should be aligned with your overall business goals. Like many other businesses, you may already have started using social media for marketing purposes. In most cases, though, the problem lies in the failure to convert your loyal social media audience into actual customers. It’s as if there’s a gap between the planning and execution stages, and that’s what you need to address.
- You need to create a separate organizational structure for your social media team. This makes the distribution of tasks clear and prevents putting too much pressure on some employees who may inadvertently be given more work than they can handle. The structure should take into account not only your in-house social media team, but also your outsourced social media strategies. Taking a holistic approach allows you to successfully consolidate your ROI.
Having a separate organizational structure for social media helps take some of the pressure off employees who may already have too much on their plates. Photo by Kevin Dooley at Flickr.com
Apart from the two pointers discussed above, you would also do well to learn more about the stages a business needs to go through in order to successfully achieve social business transformation.
It is at this stage when you craft your social media strategy. Primarily, you need to ask yourself why you’re going social in the first place. You will also need to ask who you want to reach out to (your target market) in the social media and what you need to accomplish. The next question you need to ask is where you’re bringing your campaign (which particular platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.) and how you plan to accomplish your goal. Don’t forget that your social media goal should be aligned with your overall business goals.
2. Staking Your Claim
This is the stage where you start making your presence known in social media. Fortunately, there are several tools you can use to make people aware that your business exists. You can pay for advertising on popular sites like Facebook. You also have the option of creating your own social site such as a company blog where you can establish your expertise by regularly posting interesting and relevant content. Finally, you could set up accounts in popular social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, etc.) and earn a wide audience base by posting valuable industry updates.
3. Engaging your audience
You can’t just create social media accounts and then leave it at that. You need to connect with your audience in order to earn their trust and loyalty. When you post updates or publish fresh content on your social media pages, people are likely to comment on them. Be sure to acknowledge the comments and answer any questions that may be posed. This drives home the message that you aren’t just out to make a buck, but you’re genuinely concerned about your target market and their needs. You should also make sure your audience can connect with you both on desktop and mobile platforms.
4. Bridging the Gap
Once you get a wide audience base in social media, you’ll have to bridge the gap between your performance in social media and on the business front. This means you’ll have to convert your social media followers into actual customers such that your revenue reflects your social media popularity. An excellent way of accomplishing this is by using links in a smart manner. For example, let’s assume you run a business selling food supplements and a Facebook follower asks what supplements he/she should be taking to strengthen his/her joints. You could provide a general answer to the query and then encourage the person who asked the question to click on a link to get further details.
You can provide links directly to the FAQ section of your website or perhaps a link to an entry in your company blog that answers the query. Needless to say, your blog posts should have discreet links to your website as well. Links should be inserted such that the reader will feel that clicking it is the most logical next step for him/her to take.
As long as you go through all four stages properly and keep the two important pointers in mind, you should be able to successfully move towards social business transformation. Your social media strategies can now go beyond being just marketing tools and become integral components of the whole business operation.
To make sure there is no misunderstanding, let’s go over the tips for establishing a social business once again. Define your business goals and then set up social media strategies that are aligned with those goals. Define your long-term vision for your transformation into a social business. Educate and train your executives and staff not just in using social media, but also on the impact of social media on your business. Make sure all the right people are in place. Your social media team should be composed not just of social media savvy individuals, but also of technology savvy and business savvy people.
Social media indeed plays a major role in marketing a business these days. The good news is that it doesn’t necessarily involve a high cost. In fact, it is among the most affordable marketing options currently available. What’s important is for you to take the right approach and make sure you can successfully capitalize on your social media efforts. As soon as you’ve let all of the insights discussed above sink in, you can start taking the necessary steps towards social business transformation.