Social media has become a vital channel for unified communications

    Social media has become an integral part of the way a business communicates with its consumers. According to a recent report, 90 percent of small business owners are utilizing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as networking tools.

    Manta, an online community for small organizations, surveyed 600 business owners and found that social sites are no longer seen as just a marketing strategy - they have instead become crucial aspects of the contact center. Seventy-eight percent of respondents said that social networking platforms are just as important as networking in person.


    The most popular social site for interaction is Facebook because it allows employees to post content that a consumer can share with others, according to the survey. Forty-two percent of company owners also said that they gained new customers through the use of a social media platform.


    "Small businesses understand they need to go where their audience is," said Pamela Springer, Manta's chief executive. "Participating, networking and being found online is extremely important today in growing their business."


    Customer relationships

    Companies that connect with consumers through online interactions can not only increase company trust and strengthen relationships, but also help their businesses stay relevant. Responding to tweets and comments should become a priority to attract new clients and satisfy loyal ones.


    Organizations can also use data collected from Facebook or Twitter as research to determine what its audience looks for and how to market to them. According to the survey, 25 percent of respondents said they receive the most business from a social media website. It is an easy-to-use, cost-effective solution to raise awareness.


    Unified communications

    Company owners are re-evaluating the role of social media and how it can be utilized in a unified communications system. UC refers to the integration of a number of communication channels onto one platform, and offers a common interface that simplifies communication for consumers and employees.


    The survey showed that company owners are overwhelmed with the large amount of social media channels available, which makes it hard to monitor interactions. Integrating a social service into a company's UC system can ensure that every message by a consumer will be received. Embedding UC into a business' structure can create quicker response times and increase productivity.


    Online networking should become a requirement for small companies because of its ability to create lasting relationships and increase brand awareness.