Technology has touched nearly every facet of owning and running a business in recent years. Sales, marketing, accounting, hiring, customer service, business communications, employee management - they've all been permanently changed by the growth of mobile technology, big data and social media.
Throughout 2014, Business News Daily wrote a series of forward-thinking special reports on the future of five topics of interest for small business owners. Across the board, it seems that data-driven, customized solutions will be the key to business success going forward. Based on our reports, we've pulled out some big predictions for business in 2015.
Social networks will become their own commerce platforms. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are now considered must-haves for businesses of all sizes, but having a presence on these networks will be about more than building buzz about your brand. Instead of redirecting customers to product links on your website through social media posts, technologies like the Buy button, which Twitter reportedly began testing in September 2014, will enable consumers to make purchases directly from a social media post.
Getting press coverage will mean building strong, personalized relationships with media outlets. In the past, the standard method of pitching the media was copying and pasting the same pitch to every reporter you knew, regardless of whether the story was a good fit. Today, good public relations professionals and startups that do their own PR know the best results come from forging great professional relationships with journalists and letting them know why their story is right for their particular publication.
Hiring decisions will rely more on social media. Are you still basing your recruiting decisions solely on the resumes you receive? Modern hiring managers are instead turning to social media to find qualified "passive" candidates - ones who may not be actively seeking a new job, but would be based on their profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and other networks.
Marketing emails will need to be more relevant than ever to get results. With the sheer number of advertisements and marketing communications consumers come across every day, email blasts have lost a lot of their effectiveness as a marketing tactic. If you really want to grab your customers' attention, you'll have to personalize your message and make sure it's exactly what they want to read.
Using social media to communicate with customers will be non-negotiable. If you think you can get away with ignoring customers who post about your brand on social media, you may want to reconsider your approach. As bigger brands have stepped up their game by answering customers quickly on social media, consumers have come to expect that all companies they interact with will show the same level of attention and customization.