9 ways social media can benefit your business

We were invited to speak about social media and business at the launch of Coleg Morgannwg’s new Nantgarw campus. Here are some notes.

Serve your customers

Three, the mobile service provider, are particularly good at customer service (as far as we’ve experienced). Look at the Three Twitter account which they use to respond to queries and post service updates. Note how they identify the people who are running the account on behalf of the company. Giffgaff are another mobile service provider service making use of social media tools and principles. They are networking their customers so they can help each other, earn points which are added to their credit and ultimately keep costs down. There is a Volkswagen cult-like feel to the brand. It’s a bit of an experiment but the idea of allowing customers to talk to each other is a recurring one.

Develop your products

Again, in a different field but still in technology, Dell computers have a platform called IdeaStorm. So far they have incorporated over 515 ideas from the community into various products. You can see some examples of ideas in the screenshot. The ethos: your customers, when connected meaningfully, know more about your company than even you do.

Starbucks have My Starbucks Idea, a similar platform.

Tŷ Siriol are famed in Swansea and surrounds for their high quality pork sausages. In conversation with them recently they told us they’d saved a lot of money and effort by asking their customers which products they would favour. In response, rather than develop a range of different flavoured sausages they are focusing on one traditional sausage. Ask people what they want through social media, use polls etc. Nowadays, market research can be more affordable and quicker than ever before.

Inform yourself

The screenshot depicts Netvibes for a National Theatre Wales production called The Passion. Social media can be used to monitor mentions of the company, brands and products (maybe competitors?).

You probably should also monitor keywords from your industry and news from relevant sources.

Netvibes is still a decent tool, as is a feed reader like Google Reader for persistent searches.

It’s not egotistical to monitor your own name, it’s just taking an interest in your media profile.

Share your stories

A big part of Bulmers’ brand is their long history. They are telling the stories on their Facebook timeline. It’s consistent with their advertising and other publicity.

Often people want to hear about the process and the history behind your company. Illustrate it.

Promote your products

Rachel’s organic dairy products also come from Wales. They are using a Facebook app to offer recipes, ideas, competitions, offers, cross-promotions with other related firms and so on. They have a big following and can go direct. These days, every company is a media company.

There are questions about relying on Facebook for this in the long term. It seems to be working for them now though.

Find your team

This is about recruitment and being recruited.

We focus on LinkedIn here as a means of getting work opportunities. It is particularly good for freelancers.

Your web presence more generally is probably more important than ever before (e.g. introducing ideas on a blog or regular videos).

If you’re planning a career there is a new definition of literacy which includes digital. If you can express your ideas and converse with visualisations, video, images, audio and multimedia, then that is bona fide literacy. It’s important that we develop this in Wales, from early on.

Work smarter

Wikipedia is the supreme example of collaboration using social media. Wikipedia‘s project is to produce an encyclopaedia, it’s the example of the biggest wiki in terms of users and content. But there are many other collaborative applications of wikis.

At NativeHQ we have tools which we use every day: Trello (for our to-do lists) and Google Drive (for all kinds of documents, including reports and presentations).

Fund new initiatives

Gwilym Deudraeth’s 1929 book of poetry, depicted in the slide, is a superb example of ‘crowdfunding’ in Wales before the web. More details about Gwilym here.

Now we are observing the growth of Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowdfunding platforms which help you propose a project and raise money from a number of contributors. Very often the most successful attempts use social media, especially video, to make the case and promote the project. This is a social media phenomenon – it’s much cheaper to form groups than it was before.

Redefine your business

What could you offer now that you can network your customers? In a bold move for an airline KLM are introducing people on their planes. They have a scheme called ‘Meet and Seat’ where you can share a certain amount of info from your LinkedIn or Facebook profile – and then meet other people who are interested in meeting you. They are keen to emphasise that it’s networking rather than dating.

BBC and other broadcasters do this with their Twitter hashtags, to varying levels of success. Question Time has been successful with #bbcqt and the accompanying account for the show @bbcquestiontime. The key realisation was that audiences don’t respond to ‘have your say’ (with its connotations of centralised broadcasting, using only one account) nearly as much as the offer to ‘talk to your peers’ (one hashtag which is used by thousands of decentralised participants).


That’s it. We had so much we had to cut out – this was intended to be a general presentation.

(Video of our presentation to come soon.)

Coleg Morgannwg panoramic pic by Tom and his new iPhone