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Business Benefits of social media

Social media is a buzzword around the Houston Business Journal offices these days as our Social Madness competition heats up and as we continue to boost the newsroom’s online presence.

Social Madness encourages local businesses to step up their social media game and get people engaged with their companies, starting with a Houston-only competition that will send three finalists from our area into a national event.

I’m often asked why social media matters, and how something seemingly so nebulous to some people can be so important.

Social media helps enhance all the basic pillars of good business, such as engaging with the public, converting on-the-fence onlookers into revenue-generating clients, and addressing customer service issues.

Here are five of the biggest upsides to social media:

1. Customer engagement. A simple search on a social media site is the best start. If you’re trying to introduce your company, a search can help you find a community of people interested in your field. If people are already talking about your brand, you can join in the conversation. If the conversation is positive, introduce a call to action to encourage people to buy. If you hear a negative comment, ward off those potential threats by setting the record straight. The best part? Social media is conversational in nature, so people want to talk. Reach out, and you’ll be pleased with the results.

2. Revenue creation. Social media expands your exposure, increases traffic to your site, creates interest in what you sell, and gives you the opportunity to offer promotions or specials to seal the deal. The social media site Pinterest is a great example of how social media can help you meet revenue goals. According to data from Emily Carr University of Art and Design cited in the Harvard Business Review, almost 1 in 5 Pinterest users "pin" something they later buy online. Data from found that buyers referred to an online site from Pinterest are 10 percent more likely to buy.

But not just retailers can benefit from social media. Check out American Express’s content marketing campaign, Open Forum. AmEx created an online community of articles and resources for business owners, sponsored by the brand but not directly selling anything. The goal is to provide a service and then develop loyalty that will transfer to other business deals.

3. Building loyalty. Customers are more likely to stay with your brand if they trust you. Social media can enhance this. If you can show that your business lives by its values, people with the same values will respond — and those photos of your office Halloween party play a role, giving a glimpse of your personality to make your company stand out.

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5 social tips to try: agency dos and don'ts  — Hotelier Middle East
.. to outsource your entire social media activities to an agency. Often, a hybrid approach is far more suitable.

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