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How social media can help businesses?

Hi all,

Here at Hellotxt headquarters we’re working hard to make the app/site even better for you and I’ll soon have some exciting release news for you! In the meantime I thought I’d share with you an article I wrote for the April edition of Infinity Gaming Magazine, the specialist publication for the gambling industry, I hope you enjoy reading it!

Best wishes,

Jenny

The Hellotxt Team

How social media can help businesses?

We’ve witnessed the monumental impact that social media has had on our online lives but what does this mean for our businesses? More than 73% of businesses plan on increasing their use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs in 2011, according to the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, so what should we be doing?

The good news in these budget conscious times is that social media is a cost effective, global marketing channel. This is great for smaller businesses who can get ahead of the game with a reasonable sized budget (plus some sound, creative ideas)!

What sites can work for businesses?

The average person has 140 Facebook friends, 86 Twitter followers and 61 contacts on Linkedin so if you multiply that by all of their contacts and then their contacts, contacts, that’s a whole lot of customers that you could potentially be reaching.

Nowadays businesses know that it’s essential to have a social media presence on the usual suspects i.e. Twitter, Facebook, company blogs and ever more increasingly YouTube, in fact customers have come to expect it. Within social media customer is key so it’s vital that a business manages these channels effectively by being as honest and transparent as possible.

A newer site, which you may or may not be familiar with is Quora which is often touted as the ‘next big thing.’ The site consists of a collection of questions and answers which are created and continually edited by customers. It is useful to follow any mentions of your business name and make any suitable comments. And hey who knows? Further down the line you may even be able to incorporate it in to your FAQs.

There are lots of tools out there to help you manage your social media activity, I really rate bit.ly which condenses your URLs in to manageable lengths which is invaluable when you’re trying to tweet in 140 characters! It also records your stats, such as amount of clicks and also your customer’s locations. Another recommendation is Twentyfeet which is a site that measures your key performance indicators on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. A handy feature is that they notify you when your metrics change significantly and there is a free option to try it out which is a bonus.

The future of social networking?

Information overload

The exponential rise in social networking has compounded the sense of overload people feel when trying to stay on top of their communications.  Even a moderate social networker will struggle to stay on top of things. In fact, people see more than 34 billion bits of information a day which is more than 2 whole books worth!  The only sensible solution to this problem is to help customers locate and identify, amongst the whole data deluge, the stuff that’s most relevant to them, as well as the most topical and best presented.

Opinions count

Social networking will become more ingrained in all of our online activity and our friends and contact’s opinions count more and more. Think how many times a status update has come through on your Facebook feed about an event a friend is attending and you’ve clicked through to see what it is all about, the viral potential is immense and onsite features allowing comments and ratings will be invaluable. There’s even a buzz word for this, social validation – the way your behaviour can be influenced by that of your network.

Gamification

Another hot trend in the social media industry at the moment is gamification, driven particularly by tactile mobile user interfaces. It involves using fun and engaging game mechanics for things that aren’t traditionally considered a game. A good example of this is the feature of collecting badges in Foursquare, which is a simple mechanism to encourage and reward you for sharing your location data. Gartner, the tech research firm says that says over half of innovation will be gamified by 2015.

Virtual goods

Already well documented but continuing to grow exponentially, Virtual goods remain the most popular monetisation mechanism for social media. A classic example is the virtual poker chips given out in Zynga’s Texas Holdem Poker game on Facebook, where average daily users top 7 million. Without a doubt gaming, on the back of various virtual goods models, is leading the consumer monetisation of social media, which in turn poses big challenges and opportunities for the gambling industry. Social gamers are expected to spend $6 billion on virtual goods by 2013 according to the NPD Group.

Summary

It’s never too late to kick start your social media strategy and it can reap a lot of rewards for your business, by looking at the future trends you can start to plan effectively. Whether as a marketing channel, or even part of the core product proposition, social networking, virtual goods and gamification all have a great tie in to the gambling industry so there is vast potential for a broad range of Social strategies!

 





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