Social Media as Information Provider for Business

Introduction

The use of the Internet to promote businesses has been on the rise ever since the Internet was realized. Both big and small companies are using the Internet to expand their businesses. There are numerous advantages of using the Internet as an avenue for conducting business. Social media is one aspect of internet marketing that has enabled small businesses to go global. It is, therefore, true that the availability and the use of social media on the Internet provides businesses with new and useful information. There are two main benefits that a business gets from social media. The first is exposure and the second is market trends. Both are equally important in determining the success of a business. This paper will discuss the benefits of using the social media and the use of social media in providing useful and new information that businesses can use to succeed.

How social media provides exposure for a business

Hundreds of companies are registered on social media as a way of gaining exposure. Although there are other benefits that firms get from joining the social media sites, exposure is one of the greatest benefits. Businesses gain maximum exposure on the social media sites due to the fact that the social media is global. This means that anyone in the social media is able to see the services and products that the company offers. The clients can even purchase the products offered on social media, regardless of where they are located. It is very common to find that one company is registered on all the social media sites that are available on the Internet.

It is also very easy for advertisers to take advantage of the social media. Some of the sites offer free or cheap advertising rates for companies. For example, in the case of Facebook, the advertiser can create a page about the company in question. The advertiser can then invite the people they know, probably friends, and other clients of the company to ‘like’ the page they have created. When an individual ‘likes’ the page, all their friends who are connected on Facebook are able to see the page. This, in turn, creates some kind of viral marketing on the social site.

For the companies that do not want to get global attention yet, they can still gain regional clients. This means that the site will provide regional exposure. This happens mainly with the small scale companies that have just been established. The social media sites enable the company to advertise to the regional clientele only. For example, in YouTube, which is one of the largest social media sites, the site notes the place where the user is using the Internet from. This makes it easier for the advertiser to advertise products and services to specific audiences based on their geographical location.

Exposure of the business is relevant because it tells the company about the extent and potential of the market. It gives the company information on where people want their products, why they want their products, and how they can get the products. This, in turn, leads to the expansion of the business.

How social media provides information on market trends for businesses

Being able to identify trends in the needs of the clientele is what differentiates the most successful companies from the less successful ones. Trends are the things that the client base wants, how they want them, and when they want them. For example, if a company that produces soap products wants to know why their sales are not as good as they desire, then the trends can tell the company what the competitors are doing to succeed. In such a scenario, it could be that the clientele love soaps that have a flowery scent, thus the company in question is able to make the necessary adjustments to suit the trend.

Evans (2010) also argues that the trend that the social media might provide can have no relations to the product in question, but it can give useful information about the needs of the clientele. For example, if the trend in the social media is about air pollution by a mining industry, then all other industries can gain knowledge from the reaction of the clientele. They can learn that air pollution bothers the people. If the people are bothered by air pollution, then a successful company would use this as part of its marketing campaign. This can put the company in the spotlight, at the same time show people that the company has good intentions. This, in turn, attracts more clients for the company in question.

According to Wankel (2010), however, trends can be very misleading. He argues that trends change so fast that the lack of consistency is a huge risk for businesses. Wankel (2010) explains that it is good to check the trends that are on social media to gain knowledge of how the market is behaving. It is, however, not advisable to change the company’s activities to suit the trends that are on social media all the time.

Other ways social media provides useful information for businesses

There are other ways the social media helps businesses, apart from the two mentioned ways how social media provides information that might be useful to a business. Many of the successful companies that are on social media have allowed their clientele to ask questions and give suggestions and opinions about the company and its products and services. This is easily done through online surveys or through emailing and sending messages to the clients.

Conducting online surveys is very important because it gives the company information on how the public sees the company. This information can be used to better the image of the company. Image in business can be defined as the way people see the company. There are various types of images, but public image is the most crucial image for any company. Many companies have used the social media to better their public image through encouraging the clients to participate in some of the company’s activities, or by actively discussing matters of concern with the clientele. This contributes to good consumer relations, which in turn brighten the company’s public image.

It is also through the good consumer relationship that the social media sites promote that the company is able to know what each client wants. For example, in the case of a company that is producing soaps, the company can ask the clientele what they would like to be added to the soap products to make them more effective. This can give the company a clear image of what the public expects.

The Internet and social media sites also provide the company with the needed information about the competitors. Meyerson (2010) argues that it is very important for a business to learn everything that it can about its competitors. This does not only tell about what the competitors are planning to do, but it also gives the company an edge over its rivals. For example, if company A wants to know what its competitors are doing, then it can look at the competitors’ sites on the social media. The sites alone can tell Company A what the competitors are planning because many of the companies like to advertise on their social media sites. Although Company A may not know everything about the competitors’ plans, knowing their objectives, what the public thinks of the companies and some of the things they are planning can give it the much needed information to counter the competition.

Social media can also give the company in question ideas on the products that it can create. Many of the companies that are on social media offer products or services, or sometimes both. The trends and the way people in social media talk can suggest some of the things that a company can create. For example, if people from one part of the world are talking about how beneficial it would be if they had a reliable Internet provider, then the companies in this field can come up with ideas that can bring great Internet connectivity to the specific region and enable to companies to make profits. According to Meyerson (2010), this is actually how businesses are started.

Discussion

With respect to the presentation above, it is true to say that social media can provide businesses with a lot of useful information. Meyerson (2010) argues that in any type of business, there is no such thing as useless information. Therefore, all the information that a company gathers from social media is useful and beneficial to the company.

The social media sites that are present release a lot of information about businesses and the market in general. For example, in terms of stock, many stock investors use the social media to know about factors that might affect the price of the stocks. It is through the social media that one can get to know about the problems that a chief executive officer of a company has and how the problems can affect the company. In some of the developed countries like the United States of America, small and unrelated things like personal problems can be the downfall of a successful company. According to Zarrella (2010), there are many big companies that have gone under due to personal problems related to the CEOs and other senior company staffs. Investors in such companies, therefore, use social media to check on their senior staff, the way they are behaving, and whether they can cause embarrassment to the company. This, in turn, saves the investors a lot of money because they are always prepared to desert the company when the public image is tarnished.

There are, however, other benefits that the social media has that help businesses become successful. One of the benefits is that the social media creates a great platform for establishing trust between the business and both its loyal and potential clientele. As mentioned earlier, customer relationships are very important for the success of any business. Apart from the information that the clients will provide the company with, the trust that they develop in the company will make the customers very loyal (Qualman, 2009).

Social media makes marketing and advertising to be convenient. The Internet does not have specific times when advertisements are aired, unlike the traditional platforms of advertising and marketing like the television and the newspaper that have specific times when the advertisements are aired. This means that the clientele can see what the company posted hours or days earlier because the information is always available on the site.

It is also true that the social media makes the company appear caring and personable. This advantage is gained because the company has a much easier time talking and communicating with the clientele than it is the case when the company is using the traditional customer service.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are very many benefits that social media offers businesses. As discussed, many of these benefits are related to marketing. Some of the ways in which a business can gain useful knowledge through the social media include checking the trends in the market, getting maximum exposure, and building relationships with the consumers. These three methods can help the company gain a lot of information that it can use to succeed. The social media sites make it easier for companies to gain this kind of knowledge. This, in turn, ensures that the company gains more clients and makes more profits.

References

Evans, D. (2010). Social media marketing: the next generation of business engagement. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Meyerson, M. (2010). Success secrets of social media marketing superstars. Toronto, Canada: Jere L. Clames Publishers.

Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons

Wankel, C. (2010). Cutting-edge social media approaches to business education: Teaching with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, second life, and blogs. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Zarrella, D. (2010). The social media marketing book. Sebastopol, Canada: O’Reilly Media