Selling 2.o President Josh Gordon has authored an excellent white paper, The Coming Change in Social Media Business Applications, available for download HERE. Although businesses primarily use social media tools for general communication, public relations and marketing purposes, Gordon argues that a shift is coming. According to Gordon, “companies are now viewing social media as a primary tool of customer engagement, enabling lead generation, immediate customer contact, and customer interaction.” Gordon identifies 4 primary factors driving this shift:
“First, due to the rapid rise in the popularity of social media, the number of potential customers engaged on social media sites was previously underestimated by many organizations. Second, in the current economic downturn, where there are fewer customers in general, finding them and engaging them are much higher priorities. Third, there is now a “Main Street” acceptance of social media as a powerful persuasive tool. Regardless of political affiliation, managers everywhere recently noticed that the largest and most successful social media campaign in history helped elect Barack Obama President of the United States. Finally, there has been a breakdown in traditional lead-generation programs. With more customer contact moving online, it is easier than ever for a client to ignore messages from potential suppliers. Social media can help break the ice.”
The results of Gordon’s study suggest that businesses are beginning to see social media as more than just another PR/marketing channel. Social media allows businesses to engage customers, build and maintain relationships, and personalize their business. Social media sites also provide a unique outlet for customer prospecting and lead generation. If Gordon’s research is correct, businesses should begin to see markedly better results from their social media efforts.