So you are having trouble convincing your clients, a business partner or perhaps even yourself that a social media presence is worthwhile?
If you speak to a social media agency or consultant, they will emphasize that social media builds brand and product awareness. But what does that really mean, and how can you use social media to accomplish your broader business goals and objectives?
Let’s consider one of the fundamental goals for most businesses, namely to create new customers. Often the first step in this conversion process is to let them know you exist. The second step is for clients or potential clients to align with your business and “like” your brand. Why? Because people buy from people – and yes, they buy brands, products or services from people who they can relate to.
Social media is fast becoming a part of everyday life with more and more people communicating regularly via platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FourSquare and FriendFeed. Add to this the growth of YouTube, iTunes, Vimeo, Tumblr, Pinterest and other such content sharing sites and you can see why social media is becoming an important element in the marketing mix.
In addition, access to these social networking sites is now so much easier. The popularity of the iPhone and other similar 3G handsets, the arrival of the iPad and other tablet like devices is incrementally increasing the level of activity in social media via online communication. The ability to access information anywhere and anytime is changing the way we engage and communicate and businesses need to respond proactively to this new phenomenon if they want to engage with their customers in an environment already being frequented by those customers.
If you are still not convinced then consider the pertinent question “why is social media worth your time and investment?”:
Social media is where your customers are.
As previously stated, most people are already using social media in one way or another for example Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, mobile apps and games. These are all part and parcel of life as we’ve come to know it. Interacting or engaging in that online environment puts your company’s brand and product messages in a forum where they can be shared and commented upon. This has the ability to create awareness, perceived community involvement, general interest and the ultimate flow on effect of sales.
Social media levels the advertising playing field.
Whether you are a big brand, a service professional, a not for profit business or small startup business, social media has created an even playing field on which brands, businesses and organisations can now compete. The advantage is still with larger, more established brands, simply because they start out with large and existing fan bases. They probably also have larger budgets for media spend. But that does not mean you are defeated. With consistent effort and creativity, you could reach the same audience.
Consider if Social media is already helping the competition.
A commonly used statement is that the early up takers will have the early gains. Have your business competitors embraced social media and are they already achieving online traction? Social media cannot be ignored. Even if you choose not to be active, you should at least be aware of the power of social media and the potential threats to your brand regardless of your online participation.
Social media is searchable.
Are people searching for your product or service? How are they looking? Most likely, online search is one of the top ways. The phrase “Google It” has become commonly used when thinking about finding information. Social media can affect your company’s organic online search results as well as provide an entry point to your website, blog or landing pages. Statistics show that YouTube is the second largest search engine, meaning videos get ranked high in Google results and video has undeniably become a must have feature on your website. Other social media networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter are also searchable.
Social media content – the shareable factor.
Content marketing is an essential component of social media, namely creating and sharing information of interest. This could be interesting news, videos, articles, photos, or great graphics. In the past, if we were to share an article with a friend we would have had to physically tear the copy out of a printed magazine or newspaper, or photocopy the relevant article of interest in order to share. Today, sharing content is usually only a one click process. How much easier does this not make the sharing process?
Social media allows for real-time feedback and engagement.
Through the process of creating content, sharing, engaging or interacting, you can find out more about what is important to your current and future clients and customers. This allows you to focus future marketing campaigns.
Social media has a greater lifespan than other media (and it is certainly more cost-effective).
Your company’s videos, tweets, pins, and posts “live” online and in Google / online search results for a very long time. Unlike TV ads, magazines, newspaper adverts or billboards that are taken down once they’ve run their course, social media content stays online, working for you. This content continues to increase your digital footprint with each new bit of information and content that you share.
Social media is one click away from the online store or contact me page.
If your customer is staring at your printed advertisement in a newspaper or billboard at the railway station, they simply cannot gain access to the contact you info or buy now page (unless you are using a QR Code and they’ve got a smart phone at hand). Once a customer is online and thought is given to your “call to action” statement, driving traffic to your appropriate online pages is usually only a click away.
Cathy Mellett is an online and social media marketing coach in Auckland. She has worked in the IT industry since the late 80’s and has been involved with Social Media over the last 4 years. As a social media consultant she is dedicated to helping her clients leverage social media to get business results offering affordable social media solutions and customized training. To contact Cathy at Net Branding.