Why Businesses should use social media?

Riley Gibson is the CEO and co-founder of Napkin Labs, a startup that helps companies discover insights from their fans, followers and customers. Follow Riley on Twitter or check out the company blog.

It seems like everyone talks about the value of social media, but very few businesses take full advantage of it. Think about how you use social media in your personal life — to ask for recommendations or advice from friends, to share photos and moments from your life, and to stay in touch. Very few people act as if they’re automated social media bots. So why do companies?

There’s huge potential for companies to get real on social media, but that means asking customers potentially tough questions: What should the company do next? How should the company improve its products or services? It’s scary, uncharted territory for many, but it’s much more efficient to tap social media than to agonize over expensive surveys and focus groups.5-ways-businesses-can-use-social-media-as-a-tool-for-progress-88cd293f60 Most don’t realize that the most valuable “focus group” is the community that chooses to opt in over social media. These friends, fans and followers want to see you succeed (and have a hand in helping you accomplish success).

Here are the biggest missteps when it comes to using social media as a tool for progress, plus some advice on how to overcome them.

1. Companies Don't Ask for New Ideas Over Social Media.

Customers love having the opportunity to influence the direction of companies, but they’re unlikely to provide valuable ideas without being prompted first. Companies need to start by proactively posting or tweeting questions that ask for customers’ thoughts on specific product ideas, marketing strategies, or anything else relevant. And when people answer you, dig deeper! Turn any initial feedback you get into a conversation, and try to create something real from the dialogue.

2. Companies Use Social Media for Self-Serving Information.

Since it’s usually the marketing department that controls a company's social media activity, it’s not surprising that the majority of information companies share over social media is about their own products or services. The problem is that promotional tweets and Facebook posts don’t generate useful conversations with fans. It’s not all about you! Instead, companies should post fun contests, polls, and questions to let their customers know they value their opinion, and that they have a personality.

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