Social media is answering the call of the business world with social networking sites creating features specifically to assist and benefit businesses. With businesses' use of social media on the rapid increase, it was surely simply a matter of time before social networking sites began to adapt features of their sites to make things that little bit easier for companies to use social media for their business online. Social media platforms are becoming more of a viable, reputable business option rather than an online hobby reserved only for those particularly internet-savvy business folk
Twitter has recently announced that their Business Centre feature is under testing, and hand selected businesses are currently trialling it. Called the 'Twitter Toolkit', the main feature lets businesses accept direct messages to their accounts from people they are not following. It allows businesses to communicate directly with clientele or customers without having to go to the trouble of 'following' them back first. This looks to be a huge help for businesses wishing to use Twitter as one of their key social media outlets - customer service situations such as feedback and complaints can be dealt with online without the business having to follow everyone that wants to ask a question. Another feature is the Contributers tab, which allows businesses to add multiple users to the one account, allowing those users to then all be able to tweet from the same account. This would be of great assistance when it comes to collaborative communication, both internally and with the public
Other business orientated online programs and websites are using allowing easier access and maintenance of social media, as we realise that this is one trend that is isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Vertical Response, a popular online content management application, created a social media functionality feature at the beginning of the 2010 that enables small business customers to share their email marketing content with popular social networks. Using this, you can publish your mass business emails to Twitter or Facebook, both saving time and getting your message out there in mass and more easily. You can 'cross-promote' your news across a variety of social media networks. Users simply have to link their social media accounts to their VR account, and by clicking a 'Share email' button, a URL will be posted on their social media accounts linking back to mass emails. Vertical Response obviously realise the social media is no longer simply a novelty, but an integral part of many businesses' marketing campaigns.
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Due to mainstream acceptance of social media as a powerful, persuasive business tool, the future will no doubt see more social media applications creating their own business features, or adapting to suit the needs of business users. At the moment, social media is being used in businesses mainly in the online marketing and public relations capacities, with sales and collaborative communication still only used by some. Studies have also found that interestingly, the smaller the company, the more likely that social media is being used as a business tool. This is perhaps due to that fact that larger organisations have the ability and finance to use other resources, whilst SMEs may find the inexpensive social media option the way to go. Whatever the reason, there is obviously much room to improve to attract bigger businesses to social media usage, and that will surely contribute to the change and adaptation of social media for businesses.
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