Leveraging social media to enhance traditional business practices. Twelve percent. That’s the percentage of businesses in a recent study who classified themselves as effectively using social media. While the ever-growing importance of social media is undeniable, many businesses still struggle with understanding how to incorporate it into their routine business practices. Hiring procedures, public relations initiatives and branding efforts all have a place in the social media sphere, but they must be utilized strategically to drive results and make standard processes more effective. Successful hiring practices are necessary for any business to grow. Traditional methods of collecting resumes and interviewing candidates require large amounts of time from any recruiting team. At the beginning of a hiring phase, companies must identify communities that contain qualified applicants. From universities and civic organizations to professional associations, there is a broad spectrum of places where potential job candidates might exist. When these efforts are taken online, outreach efforts can become more streamlined. As more organizations, societies and events establish a presence on social media, recruiters can quickly connect with these groups – and the individuals within them. Through platforms such as Google Plus, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, individuals with similar interests can connect easily at the click of a button, enabling countless niche groups to exist online. To connect with target audiences faster, recruiters can search for these community groups within individual platforms and then market to them. Utilizing the audience reach of social media platforms can expedite the process of identifying qualified individuals as well. Job postings on your website can quickly be promoted through your company’s social media pages. Additionally, your human resources and communications teams can work together to advertise open positions while your employees promote them on their social networks of friends, relatives and business contacts. While increased brand awareness is a key benefit of utilizing social media to market job openings, it also encourages employee referrals. Statistics indicate that using social media as part of a company’s recruiting strategy increases not only the quantity and quality of job candidates but also reduced the time-to-hire ratio.  Social media also allows a business to take its public relations practices online. Through Facebook company pages, Twitter accounts and Google Plus business pages, organizations can quickly gather followers who are interested in staying updated on its news and happenings. These groups serve as an audience to which public relations professionals can promote the company’s culture and initiatives. In fact, one Facebook post has the potential of reaching nearly one-third of its entire audience within the first 10 minutes a post is made. Social media posts are ideal for announcing new hires, highlighting service projects, showcasing new clients and promoting upcoming sales. They are true platforms for showing your company’s values in action. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects within public relations is keeping a finger on the pulse of what is being said about your company. With a population of just over 170,000, Chattanooga has hundreds of conversations going on daily, but how can practitioners best monitor them? Social media listening tools help streamline the need to stay abreast of discussions happening across brands and industries. Many of these social listening tools have free and paid versions that send keyword-based alerts directly to you. Utilizing these tools provides real-time data on when relevant conversations occur online. Whether they involve customers discussing your product on Facebook, prospective clients expressing needs on Twitter or relevant industry conversations taking place on Google Plus, these social listening tools enable you to participate in conversations by contributing ideas and expertise. Online hiring and public relations practices are supported when a company uses social media to increase awareness of its brand. While much value can be gained from participating in online conversations, a company can also benefit from initiating them within industry blogs that have readerships of interest to a company. Perhaps the readers represent a target group of prospective customers, or they might even be a community of influential leaders within your industry. Either way, there are many ways for companies to develop and publish content for relevant blogs that drive more brand awareness. Writing articles around seasonal hot topics within an industry is a great starting point for many companies. As a guest author, you can publish this content on blogs for industry associations, membership societies or niche websites. Providing this content for webmasters not only serves as outreach for your company, since your name is published within the article, but it also allows you to begin conversations around topics of expertise for your business. These articles allow you to offer resourceful information to prospective customers and to stay top-of-mind to readers who might turn to your business the next time they need a service or product. Once webmasters post your content on their website, they like – no, love – for you to promote the new content on your own personal sites. Enter: company business pages. The social media outreach comes full circle and encourages businesses to promote guest articles on their personal pages thereby positioning themselves as an industry leader among local customers and prospects. How many of your competitors are regular contributing authors on other websites? The advantage here is truly limitless. By taking routine business practices such as hiring, public relations and branding into the online realm, companies can better streamline important tasks into which their teams are already investing time and resources. As you plan new goals for your business, consider embracing social media as a component of your marketing strategy. Let 2014 be the year you get serious about the social side of business. Maggie Hodges is an Internet marketing analyst in Full Media’s Chattanooga office. Prior to joining the Full Media team, Maggie worked as a public relations specialist at a full-service public relations firm in downtown Chattanooga where she gained experience in traditional marketing and campaigns. With an educational background in organizational communication, Maggie assists clients with search engine optimization, online public relations, reputation management, social media management and e-marketing while also helping plan and implement Full Media’s communications strategies. Learn more about Full Media at http://www.fullmedia.com/greenville/.
 Social Media: What Most Companies Don’t Know: http://hbr.org/web/slideshows/social-media-what-most-companies-dont-know/2-slide
 How Employers Use Social Media for Job Recruiting (Infographic): www.business2community.com/infographics/employers-use-social-media-job-recruiting-infographic-0684322
 By the Numbers: 104 Amazing Facebook Stats: http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/direct/facebook-posts-get-half-their-reach-within-30-minutes-of-being-published-24453/
The Social Side of Business by Maggie Hodges
Friday, March 28, 2014on