Can Social Media Work in Big Business?

Social media is already a tough sale as is, but how do you sell it internally to a large company? As the landscape of social media continually changes with new platforms popping up almost daily, it can be difficult to know what types of social media can be productive. Below are a few suggestions that might work.

Hot Blog Post

One very common way to drive a ton of traffic is to write a controversial blog post and then get it on the home page of Digg. The end result would be a ton of traffic to the article and an amazing amount of links from other blogs, but this would likely result in little to no revenue. Thus, justifying the return on investment with the project becomes extremely unclear and difficult to put in a power point.

Imagine walking into the VP’s office and trying to explain how this article, which could be considered utterly useless from a sales perspective, will help drive search engine optimization efforts. A small to medium-sized startup usually can digest this type of experimentation, but when it comes right down to it, enterprise-sized companies will only understand the dollar-in versus dollar-out model. So we can try something else.

Cool Video

Lets look at video for a moment and try and understand what the potential return on investment could be. For this example, let’s say we are a large exercise equipment manufacturer. You could create a low budget funny video utilizing a few staff members and a popular piece of equipment. Have your staff come up with a really funny blooper reel and keep it amateur to keep costs down. You then post your video on all the famous video sites, properly set up with the right keywords, and link it back to a sign-up page for more information.

The simplicity of this type of video is easy to justify, and the return on investment, in this case, will be warm leads. This time, when you are faced with getting money out of a VP, the reaction isn’t quite as bad, and you may even wind up with a larger budget to keep playing. The end result is you have a good stream of traffic to your site. And, if its done right, you will wind up with quite a few links back to your lead page, and your SEO benefits will be felt rather quickly, and you will wind up with an ongoing revenue source.

MySpace Buzz

Another impossible strategy to sell is creating a buzz on MySpace to drive traffic and links. If you thought the reaction to investing in a Digg-based promotion was hard, you might wind up getting laughed at with this one. I like to call this strategy “trying to put out a fire by throwing hammers at it.” No sane member of MySpace really appreciates the friend requests from Viagra Girl or Discount Mortgage Dude. So if management actually falls for it, make sure that your strategy is sound and relevant to the demographic. Now that I am 30, I feel too old for MySpace. It’s likely that a 45-year-old VP of marketing will feel even more disconnected from that audience.

Your Own Community

Social media also extends into simple communities that can be implanted directly within your site. The key to these communities is having an attractive, fun, and unique offering to drive new users to the site. No one is really interested in posting on an empty site with little to no content from other users, which is why seeding the user base is very important. One such method that is very effective is to post within the blogosphere; get the community to spread the word for you.

All in all, social media as we know it can be a very powerful tool to drive traffic and search engine optimization efforts. From a logical perspective, with the exception of video, enterprise business is not ready for social media. More data needs to become available before this type of marketing can hit prime time at the enterprise level. So go out there make some cool funky videos and let the traffic pour in.

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