There seems to be a divide when it comes to social media for businesses; those who feel it is a waste of time, as they fail to understand its benefits, and those who see its value. We are the latter.
When you glimpse the potential customer reach it becomes clear that social media is a crucial marketing channel:
Facebook – 1 billion active users a month
YouTube – 800 million users
Google+ – 343 million
Twitter – 200 million active monthly users
LinkedIn – 200 million active monthly users
Facebook reports their average user spends 55 minutes a day on their site and if you need more convincing here are 6 more reasons why your business should go social:
1. It’s free.
Not many promotional resources are free and with such a far customer reach. Social media can be a valuable asset for all businesses, especially when your marketing budget is pretty tight. That’s just one reason why 93% of marketers use social media for business. By investing a little time you can create an additional online presence that could benefit your business. Whether your main goal is selling products, like Etsy, Customer Care, like Yahoo, relationship building or just increasing brand awareness, like Coca-Cola; there’s a plethora of opportunities waiting for you to discover.
But if you want to increase your ROI then paid advertising is a viable option. Facebook offers paid media, as does the recently added Twitter for business, so there are ample opportunities to reach a wider audience, with a budget that you set whether it’s £3 or £300.
2. It is a form of ‘Word of Mouth’ advertising.
Word of Mouth has long been heralded as the Holy Grail advertising. When people advocate your brand, without a personal interest, put their reputations on the line when they make their recommendation. If a friend tells you to try a restaurant because the food was delicious then you are more inclined to try in next time you look for somewhere to eat, right?
Recommendations from a friend beat general testimonials and conventional advertising every time. So when seeing a Facebook advertisement pop up on your screen and you see 50 of you friends like that business you are far more inclined to like it also because; a) you share the same interests and b) it is human nature to want to be included and involve with what your peers are doing. This mentality can also be applied when your followers like or comment on a post. A great technique for this is to push for people to add a friend into the comments, like BANK Fashion’s approach.
3. It creates brand recognition.
Even if direct sales do not result from your social media presence it can still be worthwhile. Any positive exposure is good for your business, so one day when Joe Bloggs realises he needs… *insert your amazing product here* …he could recall a post you did a couple of weeks ago about your new line of… *insert your amazing product here* …and find you online. It enhances your brand identity across multiple platforms, and gives your company an opportunity to have a voice, which subconsciously will help the viewer see your company as an authority.
4. Create a bond with your customers.
Be causal, have conversations with your customers, be a bit more playful than you would in your usual promotions. People use social media to interact, chat and have fun. Take Tesco Mobile’s Twitter for example, their brave insult campaign is getting global recognition as I type. (http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/tesco-mobiles-twitter-account-is-sassy-as-hell). By owning your social feeds and being down to earth you come across as open and honest to your consumers which builds trust between you and your audience.
5. Helps your business’ SEO ranking?
It’s true. Established social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc, have substantial domain authority through search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. By associating these sites to your website you are open to the possibility of moving up search engine rankings.
You may also find that your Facebook page starts ranking for some of your search terms, so whilst crafting a post or tweet consider relevant key terms and phrases. That said, always keep your audience in mind, write for your audience not for Google! No one likes a website that says ‘Builder in London’ 7 times in one sentence. Blogging can help this exponentially as having lots of content and keywords on your site can help you to rank for different phrases and words that people maybe searching for, but that’s another topic for another day…
6. Hear what your customer is saying.
Monitoring conversation is a great way to gain insight about how consumers see your company – and online, people don’t hold back. Again look at how Tesco Mobile noticed they had a bad reputation on Twitter, by showing they have attitude they turned the sentiment into a positive, using press coverage as leverage. Using social media as a medium for complaints handling and resolution provides a further opportunity to turn a negative into a positive, and one you wouldn’t otherwise had to alter customer perception. Customer issues that may have turned a customer away can now be handled with a rapid response and friendly manner. Also by being open and apologetic you reinforce that you are trustworthy and sympathetic to your customers.
You could even go out searching for opinions. Ask what your followers’ favourite product is and get them to vote on what you should stock next. Brands like Ben & Jerry’s and Walkers use this approach with great success, such as holding competitions to choose or design flavours. This ensures that you’re giving your customer what they want, and they have already engaged with the product.
So with these points in mind here are a few tips to help you to tackle social media.
Use software like hootsuite
It keeps things easily manageable and will even post to your social platforms at the optimum time for exposure.
Think about how to encourage engagement in your posts
some techniques include; competitions, questions, asking users to tag someone in, get them to participate and make a choice. These are all elements that will increase engagement but please do it tastefully! We’ve been bombarded enough with ‘like this if…’ or ‘like if you…’ posts.
Don’t sell, sell, sell
This is a place to connect and bond with your customers so try not to hard sell. Instead create stories around items or ask for opinions.
Be beneficial to the viewer
When planning your social strategy consider why people would follow you. Is it because you are funny, you share great recipes, have good competitions or are you followed because you share knowledge on your subject matter?
Mix your media
Your social platform will look much more appealing if you have a variety of media on there. Mix it up by including videos, images and links along with your plain text posts.
Your Facebook analytics (found at the top of your page to admins) can be a great insight into what works and what doesn’t, so pay attention to it.
Keep SEO in mind
You can rank for some of your posts so consider what people are searching for to find your business.
Yes it does need dedication and time but with some forward planning you can minimise this. Remember the only thing worse than having no social media presence is to have it but not use it.
You may have heard of the term less is more, it applies online too. You may think posting every hour will increase exposure but you will find followers dropping off as you fill their feed with sales. There is not set formula but I find that 1-2 posts a day on Facebook and Google+ is ample, but, as the Twitter feed is so fast moving you could post several times in one day.
So in conclusion, with half of all mobile web traffic in the U.K. going to Facebook and 18% of the time spent on the Internet happening on social media, it makes business sense to ensure that some of this time goes to you and your company. All with minimal cost and a little planning and time invested.
by Austin Waddecar on 14/11/2013