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Using Social Media in Business

From its 1973 debut as a primitive prototype at a midwestern college, social media has grown into an influential engine for strategic communication.

Organizations of all sizes, in public, private and nonprofit sectors, have adopted social media so broadly that demand is soaring for communications professionals adept at managing its platforms and messaging in advertising, marketing, public relations and customer service channels. A degree that emphasizes the strategies to best utilize social media for communication purposes might be what professionals need to drive their marketing careers.

How Do Organizations Use Social Media?

Enterprises use social media to accelerate connections with customers and prospects, build favorable impressions of their brands and provide peer-to-peer forums for customers to exchange views on goods and services.

Social media generates volumes of market-interaction data, making analytics a critical skill for testing communication and shaping it to resonate with target audiences while reducing the time and cost of traditional customer-engagement channels.

Transactional messaging, however, is just one way enterprises use social media, according to TechFunnel. The site notes businesses also use these platforms to align with the market, launch promotional campaigns and deliver targeted visualizations.

“If you are not on social media, you are practically invisible to your customers,” warns the online resource for technology news, product reviews and analysis.

What Skills Do Successful Social Media Managers Possess?

Given the breadth and depth of communication supported by social media, managers must have the technical expertise and skills to present the organization’s brand identity and value propositions through words, images and videos.

In the technical realm, understanding the content and design specifications for Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social platforms — all of which are constantly changing — is critical to shaping the content and design of communications.

In addition to staying abreast of the platforms’ ever-evolving technical requirements, savvy social managers understand analytics to develop and execute communication testing — what’s working, what’s not — to optimize messaging and generate the desired response.

Optimization involves understanding audience demographics and applying the right messaging. By testing variables in text, images and placement, managers gain insights to support communication that resonates with their target audiences.

For instance, a bank offering to help consumers transition their debt payments from a high- to low-interest rate account might choose to advertise on Facebook. According to Marketing Artfully, 43% of Facebook’s 2.23 billion users are men aged 18-44, an audience likely to be in debt.

Conversely, a high-end home-furnishing company might choose Pinterest; women comprise 60% of its 400-million-member global audience, 45% of whom have $100,000+ household incomes, according to the platform’s demographic research.

Is There a Potential Downside to Social Media Marketing?

Social media is a critical customer-service channel, ranking with telephone and email as preferred methods of communication between consumers and companies. It is a double-edged sword, though, according to Convince&Convert.

Communicating with individual customers via social media has a personal touch that adds value to the relationship. However, it also requires corporate communication skills to ensure social media management and customer service operations are in sync and adequately scaled to meet demand.

That collaboration is critical when communicating with dissatisfied customers. Nearly one-third of them expect a response within 30 minutes; another 42% want to hear back within an hour. Moreover, because social media is an “always-on” channel, 24% of those customers expect the same attention outside of regular business hours.

What Are Job Prospects for Social Media Experts?

Social media strategist, analyst, developer, influencer relations and reputation management are just a few of the career possibilities in the rapidly expanding field of social media marketing.

A Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, such as that offered by Southeastern Oklahoma State University, provides graduates with an advantage when competing for jobs. The program develops the marketing expertise and communication skills that enable graduates to interpret and present information in a variety of contexts.

Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing online program .

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