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Is Social Media really for Business?

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Social Media has permeated our everyday lives. It is now a way of life. News and updates are received through a social timeline allowing you and I to find out what is happening in the lives of friends and family as well as world events all in real time wherever we are. social media has changed the way we use the internet. We receive small chunks of information; easily digestible. But what does this mean for business?

I have had so many discussions (debates) around using social media for business. Many end the same way - social media is a passing phase and has no place in business. The truth of the matter is that if your business is going to succeed in to the next generation, you need to adapt. In 1996, Robert Metcalfe (founder of 3Com) famously predicted the internet would crash. He was spectularly wrong. Many say the same of social media. What so many fail to remember is that social media engages individuals. Businesses employ individuals. Your target audience, no matter who they are, will be using social media. The internet is changing to adapt to social media trends. Google, for example, has been personalising search for years based on your preferences and habits. This year saw the release of personal search which returns results from social networks. Companies are already adapting marketing strategies to include social media as a vital part of the marketing mix. Ultimately, social media will change the way businesses operate.

Recently I was invited to test a new task / project management system. What made this offering so unique was that it allowed users to follow and engage in the project itself through social media. At first I was sceptical as this meant putting your project out in to the public. What I saw was truly spectacular. The developers were able to release features that the 'followers' asked for and receive feedback in real-time. The project and product adapted quickly and was moulded in to exactly what the end-users wanted. This allowed development and beta phases to be merged in to one with many willing testers using and adapting the product to their need in a very short space of time.  It was community beta testing. The users became a part of the product lifecycle. This type of engagement is priceless and the customer loyalty cannot get any stronger.

This sort of adaptation showed a glimpse in to the future of product development and social interaction. This allows multiple users from different backgrounds and with different needs collaborating on a product to suit their needs. No more in-house softwarte development and licensing issues. This is crowd-sourcing at it's finest. This is where social media can lead your business in to new territories.

Social Media is here to stay. Using it for your business is imperative. Changing the way you market your business will have to adapt in order to survive. Whether your business be B2C or B2B, online marketing strategies are designed to focus on end-users. At the end of the day, we are all end users and social media will affect us all on some level.

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Simon is a South African Entrepreneur who has devoted his professional life to all things digital. Having worked across continents, he finally settled in South Africa where he launched HYKANO, a creative online development agency with a focus on lead generation through digital marketing.
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