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Using social media for business: Terms you should know

What does 'social business' actually mean? And is 'snackable content' just another marketing buzzword? This glossary clarifies these concepts and other important terms related to social media for business.

Social media can be a formidable business tool, not just for customer relationship management and marketing, but...

for gathering business intelligence and even developing new product ideas. To benefit from these information sharing networks, companies are learning to manage the social media lifecycle to get the right content out there to the right people at the right time -- and then to figure out how to use the resulting activity to better their business.

Internal collaboration in the enterprise has certainly been altered by social media, with tools like Yammer and now Facebook at Work offering new ways for employees to work together. But companies have also moved into the realm of "social business" to bring the consumer further into the enterprise fold and involve them not just at the end of business processes, but throughout. The needs, desires and complaints that consumers voice on social media platforms can be used to improve business operations, spark product ideas and, in turn, improve the social media strategy.

But how can companies tap into the connections on social media without turning to gimmicks or to creepy or downright unethical tactics? The interconnectedness of the Web creates an enormous opportunity to reach a broader audience and learn more about them, but that same interconnectedness opens the door to annoying publicity stunts and creepy advertisements. It can also facilitate all-out dishonesty and identity theft. However, while social media makes it easier to disseminate lies, it can also allow consumers to more easily ferret out and expose inauthenticity and bad business.

Read on to learn more about important terms related to social media for business, from umbrella concepts you may have heard mentioned many times, to useful tools and platforms, to strategies for getting a social media strategy to pay off (and a few to avoid).

What is social business, anyway?

Here are some terms to get you started on the major components of social media in the enterprise.

Social business
Is your company a social business? This term can apply to companies that make it their mission to address societal issues, but it's also used in reference to social media strategy.

Enterprise social networking
You may hear this umbrella term bandied about -- here's what it means.

Social media listening (social media monitoring)
Ever wonder how social media listening and social media analytics are different?

Social media analytics
Social media analytics takes social media listening a few steps further, providing a foundation for social media-based business intelligence efforts.

Social media marketing
What are some of the unique challenges associated with social media marketing?

Generation Facebook
Millennials are also described as "Generation Y," and sometimes, "Generation F." Find out why this is important to your business.

Bitly, Hootsuite and other useful tools

Effective social media strategies often have a lot of moving parts that can be tough to corral. Companies use a variety of technologies to make social media more manageable and rewarding. Here are a few important ones.

Social media dashboard
Companies that manage multiple social media accounts or run numerous social media marketing campaigns may find it difficult to succeed without some kind of dashboard tool.

Why is Bitly so popular among Twitter users?

What benefits does Hootsuite offer for social media managers (beyond French wordplay and a cute owl logo)?

A company can use tweetchats to gain Twitter followers, brand exposure and valuable information on their audience.

Google circles
What are the benefits of using Google+ circles, especially if you already use Facebook groups?

Google [+] 1 button
Do you know how to use the Google +1 button?

Social media tips -- and tricks to avoid

Social media has a dark side that might seem appealing for rapid brand exposure, but taking the wrong path won't serve your company's reputation in the long run. Here are some terms to remember as you develop a social media strategy that is ethical and authentic to your brand.

Done well, newsjacking can be a very effective practice. But it requires resources, finesse and impeccable timing.

Snackable content
Information shared on social media needs to be easy to consume and distribute. However, this doesn't mean that your company's content has to be shortened or dumbed down.

Unless you work for an activist organization or want to get fired, this may not be a practice to consider -- but you need to be aware that social media makes brandjacking an effective weapon against corporations that almost anyone can wield.

Sock puppet
It sounds harmless, but don't be fooled. Sock puppetry on social media outlets is not only unscrupulous, but it may be illegal in some cases.

Is your social media strategy worth the effort?

While it's a good idea for many companies to have an active presence on social media, more is not always more. How do you take a measured approach to social media and find out what kinds of approaches are worth the time and effort? Keep these concepts in mind to ensure that you get the results you want from a social media strategy.

Social media ROI
Even if the C-suite is on board with a social media strategy, chances are you'll need to show how the investment is paying off.

Social media metrics
There's plenty of debate about which metrics are most effective in measuring social media success.

Dark social
Just when you thought you were successfully tracking all social traffic to your website, dark social changes the game.

Cost per like (CPL)
How much did those Likes on your company's Facebook page cost?

Social media influence
Should you keep a closer eye on members of your social media audience who have a particularly strong influence?

Dig Deeper on Enterprise social media management

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Which tools does your organization use for social media management?
As an organization, our primary tool for managing social media is a dashboard that was developed in-house. The dashboard not only helps us with monitoring, but it also provides a decent suite of tools for analytics which we can then use to inform our marketing strategies. Individually, I think there is a sort of organic movement where individuals use their mobile tools of preference and participate in the conversation in their free time as well.
We are a social tools company, so our social media management is our own tool. Like what Michael says below, our whole approach and organization has embraced the tools at varying levels. We also put our primary work flows into our tool and use it aggressively, which helps us considerably in this regard.
Interesting that some people participate in their free time and might select their own mobile tools -- another way social media and consumerization blur enterprise lines. Does this complicate monitoring and analytics efforts, or for certain companies, even governance efforts?
Absolutely it does - while socially active employees can have a positive impact on company reach and success, it can be a challenge to monitor and track those efforts in the same way as you might brand-level accounts. In my opinion, that's ok, because people don't want to feel like their every social post is being scrutinized by corporate - but it does present a roadblock when trying to get other employees to buy into the impact that social media can have on their success. 

I do think it's important to know about every social presence that's out there that has some connection to your company - so that you're aware of potential risk factors (and can educate the employees), but also so that you can support it with whatever tools and research are available. 
Great points, Ben. It's striking that balance between monitoring/guiding content creation and allowing employees the freedom to work the way they want to work. 

And yes, the flipside of socially active employees might be employees who don't buy into the value of social media -- that's why you might need tools and processes that allow you to dig into social media ROI (and then present your findings to employees in an easily digestible way). 
My enterprise uses a variety of tools for social media management. One of the biggest is Google Analytics Report which gives a cross platform means of monitoring social media accounts within the company. HootSuite is another tool we use and is attractive due to its low monthly rates. The HootSuite tools provide needed means of getting into the heart of the social media websites, making the management a much easier task for our IT manager.
Thanks, C48267, for bringing up Google Analytics as another useful tool for tracking social media impact. You also mention IT, which doesn't always enter the enterprise social media conversation. It seems that many tools are designed to be as user-friendly as possible, so that marketing departments or other end users can take advantage of them without too much IT intervention.

This also makes me think of another question: how much analytics expertise do you need in your organization in order to really benefit from social media data? When can you get by with business users' skills, and when do you need help from experts?
I think you do need some significant analytics expertise to really get the most from social data - otherwise you're likely to make some uninformed decisions based on wrong/flawed evidence. On a day-to-day basis you can probably get by, but not once you get into having social data direct a long-term strategy.