How to put social media to work for your company

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Use social media to connect with stakeholders
Use social media to connect with stakeholders

Use social media to address the needs of internal and external stakeholders.

George Hu, an executive vice president at Salesforce.com and Brian Halligan, CEO and cofounder of HubSpot, inspired decision makers to cultivate inwardly and outwardly focused social media presences during their webinar “Social Revolution: Connecting With Today's Customer.”

According to a comScore statistic cited by Hu, almost a quarter of the time respondents spend on the Internet is for social interaction.

Hu and Halligan believe this communication preference extends to companies as well. Using personalized social media tools, your company may experience a significant uptick in marketing effectiveness and market share, as was reported in a recent McKinsey & Company survey.

How can you put social media to work for your biotech company? Hu and Halligan had suggestions for delivering external and internal impact.

External-Facing Strategies:

  • Develop social customer profiles. Like Netflix, gather customers' preferences and learn to use the information to offer relevant recommendations. This kind of initiative has value for patients seeking answers on their medical conditions, and also for physician practices in the realm of ordering preferences, reimbursement assistance, and product news.
  • Monitor the chatter about your company on the major social networks. Dell has trained 13,000 employees in social media and tracks more than 20,000 conversations a day, in 11 languages, Hu shared, but smaller entities like biotech companies should commit one employee to this kind of work.
  • Offer a customer social network. For example, the Toyota Friend network, developed with software from Hu's firm, offers maintenance notifications, dealer collaboration, connections with friends, and location sharing. Your portal could enable patients and healthcare professionals to “like” your company for important news and offers.
  • Provide lots of content. Halligan explained that, in a social media–driven environment, owning your own space from which you promote yourself (ie, a website) is the most economical way to intrigue clients. Content ideas include a regularly updated blog, webinars, and e-books, offered with opportunities for client discussion. “Your website is not just a brochure,” cautioned Halligan. “It's a living, breathing, changing thing, and the dialogue is on social media.”

Internal-Facing Strategies:

  • Share proprietary knowledge. It can be hard to get new employees or those who have just returned from vacation or medical leave up to speed, but with an internal-use application that's similar to Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus, people can get information they need in one time-ordered, central location by linking to relevant employee feeds. (Employees would populate their own feeds with information they feel is important for their colleagues to know.)
  • Gather leads on promising clients. An application like LinkedIn may expose surprising connections that you can leverage in later conversations with possible customers. Also, don't discount Facebook as a reconnaissance tool—it has quietly entered the top 10 of popular search engines, according to Halligan.

Social media avenues connect people, and Hu and Halligan advise companies adopting such platforms to drop their business-to-business mindset and develop a business-to-consumer one. “At the end of the day, you're marketing to people,” Halligan reminded the audience.

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