Social media is changing the way consumers interact with information and products…and it’s likely going to change your business.
One person specializing in social media for business is Sacha Cohen, CEO of Grassfed Media, an integrated communications company that serves green and socially responsible companies.
Her clients have included National Geographic, The Washington Post, and AARP.
Sacha was kind enough to answer some questions regarding social media and business.
Q: Here’s a lob-ball question to start us off with: would you define social media for us?
Ah, the million-dollar question. Generally, it refers to user-generated content (blogs, video, social networking sites, etc) that enables people to interact, share information, and communicate online.
Here’s a cool little video that illustrates the concept of social media better than I could ever explain in a few words: Social Media in Plain English.
Q: Would you give us a little “Social Media 101″ on the top few social media tools (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) — and how a business should participate in each?
I’m going to point you to Mashble’s Social Media 101 Guides which has, for example, these how-to tutorials and many more:
What I will say is that no matter what forum you are participating in or what tool you are using, becoming familiar with the etiquette and conventions of each is critical.
Chris Brogan, who is something of a social media god, offers this excellent Twitter Etiquette Guide.
Q: Your firm provides social media marketing services for socially conscious businesses — would you elaborate on challenges a business might face that you can help them with?
The social media universe is constantly changing and evolving. I’ve found that many businesses are overwhelmed by this new world; I help them navigate through it.
The other challenge is having enough bandwidth to successfully engage through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. They can all be huge time-sucks if you’re not careful.
On the other hand, they can be extremely useful for connecting to customers, product development, and marketing-it’s a matter of focusing on goals and staying on message.
Q: Whose job within a business is it to set social media strategy?
There’s no one-size-fits-all, but it’s usually a collaboration between marketing, PR, and customer service.
Q: What do you think are important new social media trends happening right now?
Here are three:
Q: Would you list examples of businesses using social media most effectively?
Q: You mentioned that you used social networking to increase conversion 17% for one of your clients — what can you tell us about how that worked?
Actually, it wasn’t a client. It was a company I worked for full time. We were able to increase conversion by introducing product reviews and rating with help from a company called Bazaarvoice.
Customers want to know what other customers think; they want real, unbiased opinions. That’s what we delivered and it was a huge success.
Senior management was very resistant at first, but by showing them the research and best practices from other companies, they eventually saw the light.
Q: How do you see social media and public relations working together to grow a business?
Honestly, these days, you really can’t have one without the other. People are talking about your product and company, whether you know it or not.
The questions is: Are you going to ignore the conversation or join it?
Q: What are Top Essential Tools You Recommend for Twitter? (this was added after the original Q&A)
Q: Thanks, Sacha! If someone wanted to get in touch with you, how should they do so?
They can email me at email@example.com or call me at 202-234-0104.