Whatever your personal take on social media, it cannot be denied that it has permeated life in the 21st century in a big, big way, and that includes the business world.
As ReportLinker recently found, businesses with 250 or more employees in countries in the EU and the UK are increasingly using social media for multiple purposes.
One of the leading reasons for which businesses utilise social media is for developing their image with the public. This can also lead to utilising social media direct marketing purposes. For instance, even small businesses as well as large ones in the motor vehicle repair industry within the EU28 nations use social media for image development and marketing. As of the end of 2017, 46% of such businesses were making use of social media in that way, up by over 31% from 2015. When it comes explicitly to the matter of large businesses using social media to develop their image or directly market their products within the EU, the leading nations (through 2017) are Cyprus (69%), Sweden (62%), the Netherlands (61%), Finland (60%), and Iceland (58%).
When we turn our attention specifically to large (250+ employee) enterprises within the EU, we see significant efforts to utilise social media for involving customers directly in the innovation or development of a service or goods. The leading EU nations in this regard are Cyprus, where 41% of large businesses use social media in this way; the Netherlands (32%); Finland (30%); Sweden (25%); and the UK (24%). In contrast, only 5% of large employers in Hungary utilise social media in this way.
Another major use for social media in business is for obtaining or responding to customer opinions and reviewing their questions. Once again, large businesses operating in Cyprus lead the way, with 58% of them making use of social media for the purpose just stated. The other leading European nations in this regard include Malta (52%), the Netherlands (48%), Finland (47%), Sweden (47%), and the UK (45%). In contrast, at the bottom of this list is Luxembourg, wherein just 14% of large businesses utilise social media for the purpose state above.
Large companies even go so far as to utilise social media for recruiting new employees. Leading nations in this regard are the Netherlands (55%), Norway (49%), Belgium (44%), Sweden (43%), and Finland (41%). In contrast, at the bottom of this list is Slovakia, wherein a mere 10% of large businesses utilise social media for employee recruitment.
Social media has become such a powerful force for businesses for a wide array of reasons. Business owners and officers feel that leveraging social media allows for humanising brands and business images, making even large corporations more accessible and “down to earth” in the minds of the consuming public. In 2015, according to recent research conducted by Nora Ganim Barnes and Shannen Pavao at The Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts, 33% of Fortune 500 companies were making use of social media, including blogs, for marketing and communications. By the end of 2017, the survey shows that the percentage was up to over half (53%) of Fortune 500 companies, indicating that large, successful companies are quite convinced by the importance of social media in their strategy.
There is a large array of benefits that companies get from leveraging social media in addition to humanising their brands and images. These include: increasing their brand awareness; establishing their brands as thought-leaders; remaining at the forefront of busy consumers’ minds; increasing traffic to company websites; generating leads for the sales force (a modern version of sales networking); partnering with influencers; increasing readership of marketing and communications content; reputation management; crisis communications; and, increasing direct customer and prospect engagement.
Another leading way in which social media is used is internally. Instant messenger and chat services now play major roles in company communications. As ReporLinker found earlier this year, “43% of respondents said they use instant messaging applications at work. Not surprisingly, instant messaging is widely popular in the tech industry, where 71% percent of employees rely on the application. In international companies, it’s used by 62% of the workforce….
Despite the buzz around startup group messaging applications such as Slack, Microsoft still dominates desktop communications. Skype, which it purchased in 2011, is the most popular instant messaging software, used in 29% of companies, while Microsoft Lync is used by 19% of respondents. However, more than one in five respondents say they’re using Facebook Messenger to communicate with co-workers, which makes the launch of Facebook at Work look like a smart move for the social network.”
There are some significant advantages to using instant messenger and chat services at work. They facilitate multitasking. More than one conversation can be maintained at the same time. Images and photos are easy to send over IM. IM allows faster communications than email. And, conversations are automatically archived for ease of future reference and more accurate “remembering”.
Human beings are talkative, social creatures. It should come as no surprise that the invention of social media on the Internet has started to revolutionise the way many companies market themselves and engage in communications. Whether, in the long run, this proves to be a good or bad phenomenon is something only the passage of time can tell us.