27 Oct 2011

Social Media Becoming Important Tool in Business

Author: Colin Andrews | Filed under: Science, Health, Environment

By: Colin Andrews

As Robin Lee walks through the aisles at The Student Book Exchange, she looks at her phone to check in on Facebook. By checking in on her phone, Robin announces to the world where she is. Checking in on Facebook provides Robin with the opportunity to receive discounts on her purchase and also garners free advertising for The Student Book Exchange. Robin is not the only one checking in, updating her status or tweeting – she joins a growing list of people who use social media on a regular basis.

The Student Book Exchange offers discounts to customers that 'like' their page, Photo Credit: Colin Andrews .

Americans spend almost one quarter of their total website surfing time on social media websites and blogs, according to a survey done by the Nielsen Social Media Report.

The report states that in May 2011, a whopping 53.5 billion minutes were spent on Facebook alone.

With so much time being spent on social media websites, businesses are flocking to those websites in hopes of garnering business.

The Bowling Green, Ohio, Student Book Exchange, also known as SBX, is following the social media trend. SBX is a small business that sells textbooks, apparel and basic school supplies aimed at college students.

Jake Vanneman, assistant manager at SBX, said that SBX knows that using social media is a useful tool to attract customers to their business.

“Social media gives us the opportunity for advertisement and recognition, and allows us to reach a lot of people,” Vanneman said.

SBX uses the social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare , according to Vanneman, and occasionally also offer discounts to those loyal shoppers who ‘like’ or ‘follow’ their store. Discounts can range from 20 percent off sports apparel to special discounts for customers that check in on Foursquare.

Everything from questions about textbooks to the hours and location of the store can also be asked or found on SBX’s social media websites.

Robin Lee, a resident of Bowling Green, Ohio, enjoys keeping her friends on Facebook and Twitter up to date on where she is and what she is doing.

“Sometimes it is fun to check in at a store or tell my friends what I’m doing on a certain day – I can also recommend my favorite places to eat or tell people if I had a good or bad shopping experience somewhere,” she said.

Lee, who ‘likes’ SBX on Facebook, thinks that ‘liking’ a page on Facebook is beneficial to both the customer and the business.

“If I ‘like’ a business on Facebook, they might give me a special deal that will want me to come in; this helps the business and myself,” she said.

Betty Thom, a graduate of Bowling Green State University and an occasional customer at SBX, thinks that social media is a great way to attract business.

“I am now on Facebook and so are many of my friends and family, they spend just as much or sometimes even more time on Facebook than me” she said.

Thom says that if she were to be offered incentives from a business via a social media website like Facebook, it may give her a reason to check that business out.

“I do love coupons and discounts, so if a business gives me the opportunity to save, I’m there,” she said.

Gregory Rich, Chair and Associate Professor in the marketing department at Bowling Green State University, thinks that social media is a beneficial marketing technique.

“Social media can have many benefits for a business. First, it creates a community of friends around particular products, which builds customer loyalty. Further, consumers can interact with the company and each other on the site – so this is a great marketing research tool to see what people most like and don’t like about the product,” he said.

Rich believes that social media has had a huge impact on marketing and says that advertising dollars have shifted away from television, radio and newspapers and towards interactive social media websites.

Large businesses have adopted social media as an effective marketing tool, but small businesses like SBX can benefit from social media too, according to Rich.

“Small business owners can also benefit from Facebook or Twitter – the key concern for a small business is that it must take the time to add and change content, interact with people, and be engaging,” he said.

Using social media in business, whether it is a small or large one, is growing. As more and more people are connected online, businesses are trying to adapt and find new ways to attract potential customers and attention.

As Jake Vanneman reflects on how social media helps the business he works for, he gives advice to small businesses that have yet to join the social media trend.

“I would absolutely encourage other businesses to use social media – if you have the opportunity to attract business, why not do it,” Vanneman said.

One thought on “Social Media Becoming Important Tool in Business

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