03/05/2011

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Do all businesses large or small, need to use social media?

Jemima Gibbons, AAB Engage:

Well the thing about social media is that it's very cheap to use, it's widely available, a lot of young people coming into the workforce can use it really easily and the benefits from using it are so enormous. Businesses really need to learn how to get a grip on it quite quickly.

Do you have any good examples of businesses using social media to their advantage?

I think you've got businesses across the range using Facebook and Twitter really well. Coca Cola for example, two out of work actors set up a Facebook page for Coca Cola a couple of years ago and I think it's got something like 25 or 26 million fans right now. Coca Cola were really clever because instead of competing with this page they just hired these two out of work actors to come and run the page for them. So that was a really good move on Coca Cola's part.

Then at the other end of the spectrum you can see really small businesses like Mission Pie which is a pie company in the states, United Linen in the states, they use Twitter just to keep their customers updated with special offers. There's a bakery here in the UK called Albion in Shoreditch and they actually sent out a tweet every time they get a fresh load of cakes or pastries out of the oven so people know the best time to pop into the bakery and that's a really good use of Twitter. There are many ways in which you can use social media.

What are the biggest mistakes businesses make when using social media?

I think the number one mistake that businesses make is that they carry on operating in what has been called a kind of 'broadcast mentality'. So they act as if they are just broadcasting their brand message to the customers and they don't listen to what the customers are saying, so it's no longer a two-way conversation. So for example, when Nestle set up their Facebook page, actually one of their customers set up the Facebook page. They took that page on which is fine but then they started putting corporate accounts up on the Facebook page and they often put responses on the Facebook page saying "We'd like you to use our proper logo." and "Use the official Nestle branding when talking about us." So they really don't understand that now the brand very much belongs to the consumer.

How do you prove social media is value for money?

Well proving social media is value for money is quite difficult, you don't always see returns instantly. I think one of the problems is that businesses can go into using social media without really thinking about what they want to achieve. So if you don't know what you want to achieve when you go into a social media campaign, it's going to be very hard to measure that so that's the sort of number one issue. There's a whole world of social media monitoring and social media measurement tools out there and there's a whole market that's growing and expanding but it's still a relatively new market so there are loads of monitoring tools out there that you can use it's just you need to decide exactly which one or which tools are right for you.