5 social business trends companies can’t afford to ignore

It’s difficult to pinpoint the one trend or technology that has had the most impact on business in the past couple of years. Mobile computing, cloud computing, the “as-a-service” model—these have all transformed how businesses operate. But Web 2.0 is certainly high up on the list.

These technologies, which include social communities like Facebook, social publishing platforms like Twitter, and digital sharing platforms like YouTube, have transformed company-consumer relationships. These relationships continue to evolve as new interactive technologies become available and consumer preferences change.

Here are five current social business trends that companies can’t afford to ignore.

1. Social media is starting to be incorporated into business’s marketing strategies

More than 90 per cent of marketers already use social media for their business, but not all of them are doing so effectively. In many cases this is because they don’t have a defined social media strategy in place. However, with more and more customer engagement happening on social networks and publishing platforms, companies are starting to look more closely at how social media is being used and to incorporate it into their overall marketing strategies.

2. Visual media is being used more often

When businesses analyse the click-throughs, shares, and likes that their social content generates, there is one trend that never fails to stand out—images and videos are shared much more often than any other type of content. With the cost of video production declining and the ease with which images and videos can be distributed across the Internet increasing, the use of these visual media is rising rapidly.

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3. Analytics and social media are coming together to provide businesses with valuable new insights

Social media generates an unprecedented amount of behavioural data, but until recently businesses did not have reliable ways of extracting knowledge out of the data. With the rise of social marketing analytics tools, businesses can now mine social data for valuable insights into customer behaviour that they can use to power their decision making.

4. Social engagement is focusing less on the brand, more on the individual

When brands first started using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, they often used those platforms the same way they used television advertising: as a way to broadcast their brand message. As a result, many brands saw their followers flee in droves. The lesson was that when people use social networks, they want to see information that is interesting and valuable to them, not just advertisements. Brands that responded by better addressing consumers’ wants and needs saw their followers return.

The next phase in this evolution is for brands to engage consumers on a more individual level. This trend is being driven both by analytics, which allow brands to get better insight into particular customers, and social marketing tools that enable personalisation. For example, when users are signed in, Google uses their Google+ activity to personalise their search results, a feature that businesses can use to their advantage to put the right content in front of the right people.

5. Businesses’ use of social media becoming more interactive

As another way to respond to consumers’ needs, businesses are using social media more for conversations rather than for brand messaging. This strategy can pay off considerably by turning customers into brand promoters. According to this CeBIT infographic, “71 per cent of consumers that receive a quick brand response on social media are likely to recommend that brand do others.”

Social media is one of the most influential channels companies are using today to reach and engage their customer base. These five social business trends represent the top new practices emerging and expanding today.

Rosemary Brown is a business and market researcher with over 20 years of experience and is currently conducting experiments with web-based help desk tools like ProProfs Knowledge Base Software.

Image: Shutterstock

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