Last week’s focus group was another really interesting session – it was a slightly smaller group this time with only three business and community representatives but we had a great discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of social media use. Interestingly, we came to some of the same conclusions as last time particularly in terms of social networks for interacting with other businesses – LinkedIn was again seen as the key social network with Twitter seen as important but not as strategically valuable.
Some of the other interesting points which came out of this session are as follows:
- Social media is not seen as a direct sales tool. Instead social networks are valuable for awareness-raising, public relations and networking with those whom you might struggle to engage with elsewhere. Social media content is seen as particularly valuable for driving traffic to a company’s website
- HEIs in general still aren’t great at social media for business engagement. WMG at the University of Warwick were highlighted as being particularly good
- Social media is seen as a supplement to “traditional” modes of communications. People will still rely on e-mail or phone communication to really develop a relationship – even if that relationship originated on social media
- There is real value in using social media for internal communications, particularly in larger organisations. Yammer was highlighted as were blogs and internal communication forums
- Providing adequate resource to manage your social media correctly is a concern as is managing content disseminated via social media
The two focus group sessions we have run as part of the project have been extremely interesting and very valuable in validating our existing thoughts and research about the value of social media for business engagement. The message I’m getting continues to be clear, we need to be using social media to engage with our business and community partners and we need to provide resource to do this well.