Social Media’s impact is powerful. Zintro experts tell us why.

By Maureen Aylward

Social media is one powerful set of technologies. And how it is used by industries can be telling. We asked Zintro social media and industry experts to tell us how they use social media and if it is changing the industries with which they work.

Dewey Carter provides SEO and social media marketing to the marine industry, which includes marinas and boat dealerships. He says that a study from Foresight Research shows that 84 percent of new boat buyers had read or seen boat information on the Internet prior to making their purchase decision. Another study shows that the average boat shopper searches online as far as 500 miles from their location. “These are powerful statistics, yet the marine industry seems to be slow at adapting to new media. New media campaigns can provide a huge increase in revenue, but this can be challenging to clients when they are just starting out,” Carter says. He suggests that marine owners start out with a blog, even before a website, because of the blog’s ability to add relevant content on a regular basis. “Search engines like this; your blog posts are like fishing bait; consumers will find that bait and hopefully they get will get hooked.

Rekha Krishnamurthi is a designer of home accessories and apparel. She says that social media has served to be a very useful marketing tool for her business and is a connector to people and resources. “Social media gives the start-up entrepreneur a platform to sell, market, and engage with current and potential customers in an effective yet non-invasive way. I use social media to notify my network on sales, new products, contests/giveaways, changes to my brand, and to show videos through which I offer design tips,” explains Krishnamurthi. “I have made some valuable connections because of social media. For example, I connected with a US manufacturer with facilities in Vietnam that will specifically cater to my small volume orders and with a TV producer who is using my designs on the set of a new web-TV show currently in production. I have make connections with non-profit organizations that connect me with fabric sourcing, and in return, I support various communities, especially women and children, which is in alignment with my mission.”

Managing social media can be challenging, and Krishnamurthi suggests that small businesses incorporate a social media strategy as part of their marketing plan.

Linda Taylor, a social media professional, says that social media has changed virtually every industry she works with from construction to auto racing. “People want authentic interaction and they want that interaction now,” Taylor says. “Whether that need was created by social media or social media fulfills a natural need, virtually every business should use some sort of appropriate social media tool for interaction with clients, customers and, employees.”

Taylor says that traditional push advertising methods no longer work. “A large company can no longer buy up the ad space and expect loyal consumers. Instead, they must find ways to interact with consumers and create fans,” she recommends. “The downside of social media is that it puts consumers into smaller and smaller tribes of people through interests; geographic tribes are becoming more irrelevant.”

Travis Yates, a professional in social media management, says that social media allows businesses to reach out and establish relationships with other like-minded businesses, customers, and individuals in ways they never could before. “The closest thing we had in the past was occasional Chamber of Commerce mixers or industry conventions which were infrequent. Now, we can carry on conversations in real time and establish relationships in a way that was not possible even ten years ago,” he says.

Yates says that businesses are able to conduct inexpensive contests online to attract consumers. “Using this soft approach introduces consumers to the business and its products and to the possibility to capture email addresses,” he says.

Asad Zeeshan, a social media expert, says that social media is not only providing the opportunity to connect to customers and clients, but it is helping connect competitors, marketers, and local and international analysts. “It is an important medium for business marketing these days that provides multi-marketing platforms through blogs, Facebook, discussion groups, and Q&A opportunities.”

Christine Sierra, a media marketing and PR executive, says that the public relations and marketing industries have seen a radical change in how they do business thanks to social media. The channels through which clients are conducting campaigns inevitably include a social media element. “There is greater opportunity to reach the media by combining traditional tactics like email and telephone with social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn,” Sierra explains. “Businesses are looking for social media coaches to help them understand and navigate the waters, which enhances the offerings from PR and marketing agencies.”

David Grebow, a consultant, writer, and speaker for Fortune 100 companies, has been in the corporate learning industry for over 12 years as a senior executive. He says that social media is completely changing the equation for learning in companies. “The focus has shifted to what’s called social learning. I’ve been helping companies, like Cisco, IBM and HP, for the last three years blend social media into education programs and the results have been spectacular,” Grebow says. “Learning is a social activity and providing online networking and collaboration in virtual or actual learning programs enhances the students’ ability to learn from one another, build ongoing networks, and gives the instructor an opportunity to be a facilitator or mentor, which is more effective than always trying to play the sage on the stage.”

Clint White, an aviation consultant and social media expert, says that the introduction and use of social media has completely transformed the commercial aviation industry. “The ability to have real-time customer feedback and instantaneous communication via Facebook and Twitter have allowed my industry to be proactive to our customers’ wants, needs, compliments, and complaints,” says White. “My business is using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We use social media to make announcements to clients without the huge cost of advertisements and maintain communication with vendors and partners. We find it invaluable for its networking possibilities.”

By Maureen Aylward

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