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Future Strategies Dec 09

Member Bulletin

Social media – hope or hype?

With blogs everywhere you look, LinkedIn surpassing 60-million users, Twitter’s future secure with advertising - ever more businesses are getting on the social media bandwagon. So is social media mere hype? Or should you be thinking seriously about social media marketing to engage with your audience and boost sales? Here, Vistage speakers and members share their thoughts on the social media opportunity.

Grant Leboff,

Vistage speaker and marketing guru

Social media engagement is vital. I compare the old transactional sales and marketing model with a car that is always breaking down. You know you shouldn’t be throwing money at it for a ‘quick fi x’, but you’re unsure of the alternative. It’s just the same trying to squeeze a few extra sales out of the old model. In a world where reputation and customer engagement are paramount, it’s time to look for something new – online strategies and techniques can boost customer experience and generate new revenue streams.

Sharon Cain, Vistage member and MD of Quest PR

Social media ‘savvies’ are reaping the bottom line rewards of powerful online campaigns. Before launching in with size 14s, businesses should listen through tools such as google alerts to fi nd out what’s being said about their brand, their industry and their competitors. Many companies are still fearful of social media and overwhelmed by the volume of tools. Intelligence gathering should guide you to the platforms best suited to your organisation. Then devise a strategy to engage with your target audiences. Social media turbo charges your marketing plan - and it’s defi nitely here to stay.

DK, Vistage speaker and Founder of Media Snackers

Businesses should be using social media tools as dynamic platforms for engaging with target audiences. We’ve binned the old terms ‘business- to-business’ and ‘business-to-consumer’. It’s all about ‘peer-to-peer’ and about communicating dynamically through blogs and videos which build up the excitement as they sell the evolution of companies’ services and products. It’s also about crowd-sourcing – encouraging your communities to share the experience. When we needed a new image for our book ‘Zen and the Heart of Social Media’ we used a great photograph that had been sent to us by a Twitter follower. In the words of US science fi ction novelist William Gibson, “the future is here.”

Edward Charvet, Vistage speaker and Co-founder of Trovus

Businesses developing a social media presence should emulate the companies they admire and blend this with their in-house style. Rather than fundamentally changing the relationship between businesses and their customers, it enhances it. Business-to-Business relationships, especially in the higher value service and product markets, are still heavily based on human contact. Social media amplifi es and accelerates aspects of these relationships, enabling businesses to hold profi les on more clients. The basics of relationship building don’t change.

A member’s perspective

Paul McErlean, Vistage member and MD of MCE Public Relations

Ed Charvet’s Social Media presentation opened my eyes to the opportunity. I was inspired to meet a social media pioneer who had won contracts worth £100, 000 through Twitter. Another member of my group, from the construction sector, who hadn’t previously considered social networking as a potential sales generator, has since pulled in three

quality sales leads through LinkedIn. You can’t afford to ignore this stuff if you want to compete and win in a very changed business environment. The digital world defi nitely has a role to play. Social networking is a forum for getting better information to make better decisions and, ultimately, to win new business.

2 Member Bulletin | Summer 2010

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