Ever decreasing circles

In writing a blog about blogs (well social media to be more precise) I’m very conscious this is a ‘wheel within a wheel’. However, I can’t let the opportunity of a new book on ‘Why You Can’t Ignore Social Media in Business’ and the approval of new ‘Social Networking for Enterprise’ module at the University of Leeds in the same week, go by without comment.

It is self-evident to new graduates that their social lives at university have been shaped, buffeted, driven, disrupted and generally invigorated by social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogging and online chatting). But, why would this be important to their working lives or business more generally?

What makes social media different from existing communication channels is not what is being said (or promoted) but the very nature of the channel – the speed of delivery and the opportunity for interaction, recommendation and ‘buzz’. Imagine you could introduce that energy to your business communications strategy.

As Victoria Tomlinson, author of ‘Why You Can’t Ignore Social Media in Business’ and Chief Executive of Northern Lights PR, puts it … “social media is important because:
•    Brings your business to life
•    Gives you credibility
•    Provides rich, current content for Google ranking
•    Gives your business a personality
•    Portrays your expertise to your customers and clients
•    Helps you find and build [new] relationships
•    Leads to new business”

Victoria’s book if full of case studies.

And according to Susan Gunelius in The Entrepreneur, there are even 10 laws of social media marketing.

Yes, I know that business people have heard all the hype about Internet-related services – from e-mail to websites and from e-commerce to online marketplaces. But, for me social media provides relatively low-cost opportunities for businesses to expand their profile. The technology is not complicated or expensive. It’s the content that is difficult generate – it requires a change in mindset to recognise this ‘online chatter’ can be managed, targeted and orchestrated for business benefit. You could got of course call on the help of your customers. Loving Outdoors are building a new online shopping experience. Not for their customer but by their customers. See Loving Outdoors Facebook – Like?

If a new ‘Social Networking for Enterprise’ module is being developed as part of the employability agenda for final year undergraduates at a leading university perhaps social media has come of age.

Not so much, ‘ever decreasing circles’ as ever expanding horizons.

Prof Nigel Lockett FRSA

Professor of Enterprise, Leeds Enterprise Centre, University of Leeds
President of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship