Last month, Bob Pearson spoke to Inc. 500 winners about social media trends and how new media can help them grow and better engage with their customers. At the Inc. 500 conference, he also launched a new social media toolkit we’ve made available on Facebook. With every budget line item being scrutinized in companies of all sizes, now is the time to start looking at social media strategies if you haven’t already.
The data varies on the number of companies using social media today to connect with customers and get a better pulse on the conversations that are happening about their brands, products and services:
- 5 to 6% of SMBs are using social media according to AMI;
- IDC reports 10% of SMBs are on Facebook; and
- A study from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research says 39% of the Inc. 500 are blogging, compared to just 11.6% of Fortune 500 companies.
Regardless of the numbers, customers are online and having conversations, good or bad, about companies they do business with every day. I’ve said it several times before, but that reality is what led Dell to launch a blog in the first place.
If you are one of the companies blogging or connecting on sites like Twitter, Facebook or Friendfeed, congratulations. You are probably already connecting with customers in a way that wasn’t possible before Web 2.0 tools came about. If you are new to social media want to learn more, check out the toolkit I mentioned above – www.facebook.com/dellsocialmedia. Most of the tools are free, but make sure you have folks committed to doing something with the feedback you get from customers.
Talking with Heather Gorringe who is the founder and director of Wiggly Wigglers and the U.K. winner of the Dell Small Business Excellence Award, she characterized it as “being polite.” Rather than “ramming messages down their throats,” using social media tools like blogs, podcasts, wikis, and or even by jumping in on comment threads on sites like YouTube or Flickr allow you to engage in a conversation with your customers where and when they want to have it. Even if you launch your on sites, that external outreach is hugely important as well.