Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Companies Get Savvy to Social Media

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Companies Get Savvy to Social Media

Article excerpt

From sharing exclusive coupons to recruiting new employees, a growing number of North Jersey companies are expanding their use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn, to boost business and connect with consumers.

Paramus-based food company Smart Balance offers discounts to its Facebook followers and typically tries to respond to questions posted on social media within 24 hours on weekdays.

Montvale-based Benjamin Moore's Facebook page is a forum for conversations about color and style.

And the MWW Group, an East Rutherford-based public relations firm, incorporates social media in hiring employees and sharing office culture.

Many companies are using social media to post information targeting their customer base. Car rental company Hertz Global Holdings Inc.,whose world headquarters are in Park Ridge, shares information related to customers' interest in travel, such as places to view Fourth of July fireworks.

Social media can give companies a specific number of people that will consistently receive updates and product information. They can also communicate with specific audiences, such as "millennials" who typically use social media. Social platforms allow for conversations about products between customers and the company, as well as among customers themselves.

Social media can spread information faster than traditional "word- of-mouth" communication. But messages about the company - posted on the company's official pages or elsewhere on social media - can have either a positive or negative slant. "In some sense, it is potentially a double-edged sword," said Sharan Jagpal, Rutgers Business School marketing professor.

But social media can be an efficient way for companies to receive customer feedback. While there is some self-selection involved, social media platforms provide access to a larger number of people than traditional focus groups, he said. Social media can be particularly effective if a company focuses on a specific target audience of its industry, according to Jagpal.

Engagement on social media can provide the company with benefits such as exposure to a larger audience, when a customer "likes" or retweets a company's posting and shares it with his or her network, according to Bela Florenthal, assistant professor of marketing and management at William Paterson University's Cotsakos College of Business.

Hertz' "Share It Up!" campaign, which almost doubled its Facebook fan base, allowed customers to increase a coupon's value by sharing it on Facebook, said Lemore Hecht, Hertz's communications and social media manager. …

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