Why use social media in business?

This is post which came as the result of a 3 hour ramble between myself and a colleague Maarten de Vries after work one day. We were asked our thoughts on a project to encourage the use of social media. We felt it was more important to help people understand why they should bother using social media at all. We thought that if  people thought that it was important enough in the job and their career that they could quite easily google “how to use twitter”. It was more important to explain why they should want to use social media at all let alone why use twitter.

Maarten is well known as master of the whiteboard and an expert of articulating a complicated project in a simple visual way. Maarten could not wait to get his whiteboard board pens out and started sketching some ideas which started of looking something like the picture below.

We tried to boil the things in our head to some simple things which everyone could get their heads round. We came up with the grid below which defines four areas of social. You have both internal and external social platforms. You can also condense most social media activities into either learning from others or trying to influence others.

For the purpose of the diagram above the letters do not represent and importance and are purely for illustrative purposes.

We came up with the idea of 4 challenges and 4 benefits to go with the four areas we identified in the diagram.

A – Internal influence

A – Internal influence is very important if you work in pretty much any organisation with other people. Especially in complex matrix organisations


How do you communicate effectively with your internal colleagues who you are and what you are doing. How can you


If you can work better with your internal colleagues you will gain their trust and respect. With this will come more responsibility and opportunities to work on new projects. Over time this will serve you in great stead for any promotions or pay rises you may be chasing.

B – External Influence


How do you gain respect from the people you want to business with? How do you build trust and credibility with the people you want to buy your stuff?


If you can build your credibility as an expert in your domain you will start to become the go to person in your industry people will come to when people are looking to for what your business can supply.

C – Internal learning


How do you find out who are the experts in your company? Where do you go to to get information about X, Y or Z?


Imagine if every time you needed to find out about X, Y or Z there was a ready made resource with 90% of the answers to every question you could ever imagine in it. If you need to ask a question not covered in the 90% imagine getting an answer within a short space of time and the answer coming to you

D – External learning


How do you make your company relevant to your customers? How do you understand how to position your company against your competitors? How do you keep track of what the analysts/bloggers/media think your company?


Imagine if every time your customer announced any significant news you was always the first of their suppliers to congratulated them of the good news or offer some help if the news was bad. Imagine if when they announce they have acquired one of their competitors you call them up to offer your help in consolidating their suppliers so you can offer them a better rate. Every time you visit a customer and they mention the competitors sales person has been in to see them you can show your knowledge of the new products and help differentiate your offering against the competition.

In summary

If you face any of the challenges listed above or are looking to get any of the benefits then you have a good reason to get involved with social media.

Please take a couple of minutes to view Maarten doing his thing on the whiteboard explaining our theory


Your turn

What do you think of Maarten and mine ideas? Do you think it help makes sense of social media? Will it help you explain or execute social media in your organisation?

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