Published 03/31/14

Social media for business success – “Fishing where the fish are”

On Alumni Engagement Day March 28, a panel of alumni experts tackled the role social media plays in the changing way we do business.

Ann-Marie Harrington ’86, founder of Embolden Design, a digital communication and consulting group, asks her clients, “Why do you want to be on social media? Who is your audience? The answer should be strategic and with measurable goals, not just because everybody’s doing it.”

Senior Product Manager of CommerceHub, Paul Brisson ’02, uses social media for a slightly different purpose. “We’re a company most people have never heard of,” he explains. “We are strictly business-to-business. But we have an internal social media hub that our employees own. Business and personal announcements, social gatherings, and company updates keep us all informed inexpensively, and interactively.”

Founder of Crystal Clear Digital Marketing Tim Sawyer ’91 says of social media, “During The Oscars, host Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a selfie using her Samsung Galaxy phone. That photo was retweeted almost two million times that night, and crashed Twitter’s servers.”

The business ramifications: “At one point Samsung was getting about 900 mentions a minute on social media, according to Kontera, a company that tracks content on social media sites. Talk about exposure. Content sharing, consumer interaction, and user reviews play a significant role in the ability of a campaign or a business to gain exposure on the web. I think we can all agree that the modern consumer is connected 24/7, is extremely mobile-reliant, has a shorter attention span and an endless stream of content to engage, interact with, and share.  Businesses that understand this will be successful in their efforts to gain market share, regardless of industry. We call it, ‘fishing where the fish are’!”

The three key ways social media can improve your business, says Sawyer, are: Find, sell, keep. “All businesses need to find customers to grow, and most people begin their search online. The number one site customers check is Facebook. It’s also the best way for a single person to reach hundreds – or even thousands – of their customers regularly.”

David Glickman '91, owner and president of Vermont Butcher Block & Board Company, has first-hand experience with using social media as a networking tool. In his quest to build a national brand, he turned to Facebook to mount an ultimately successful campaign to appear on the ABC reality television show "Shark Tank," starring billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban and other self-made professionals. (You can catch Glickman's audition video here on YouTube.)

Michael A. Roberto, DBA, Trustee Professor of Management and director of Bryant's Center for Program Innovation, also considers social media a great connector. Roberto regularly blogs and tweets ideas, information, and an occasional invitation. "I've blindly invited speakers to campus via Twitter, and they've said yes," he says.