The emerging tools that are social media are being used by organizations of all sizes and industries. Just like any other tool, there are pro’s and con’s to utilizing social media…
Accessible anywhere at anytime
Go to where your target market spends time
Listen to the conversations
Engage in discussions with consumers
Positively promote your brand
Time consuming updates
Unfamiliarity with the sites
Distracted from project results
Being argumentative rather than helpful
Over promotion with little personalized engagement,
but the benefits certainly outweigh the concerns.
Social media allows companies to listen, engage and promote with their target market segments. By now, we are all familiar with the Old Spice campaign and have heard about the business impact on their sales figures. You are probably familiar with Zappos and how they engage with their customer base, from their CEO down. Are might also be familiar with Comcast having customer specialists focus strictly on social media channels in order to provide additional support to their customers?
These are the smallest of samplings of brands that have embraced social media and are using it to expand their business positively. Positive customer experiences are important, obviously you would like customers to return to you in the future. But how can social media improve upon your current marketing strategy. Well, maybe you don’t need to change your strategy but updating it to include social media tools and tactics are most important for you to consider.
Understand What Is Being Said About You
Social media allows businesses to listen to conversations and understand what is being said about a person. There are free listening tools such as Google Alerts and there are costly tools such as Radian6. Both allow users to follow what conversations are occurring and allow for appropriate responses to be entered.
Businesses must understand what is being said (or what isn’t being said) about them. If there is no communication occurring then that business is not in the mind of the consumers.
Also, not all conversation must be responded to from a business. This could imply a defensive approach and lead consumers into being concerned that you are concealing something from them. Let conversations occur and only engage when appropriate.
Expanding Upon The Business Brand
Social media sites allow for self promotion, but what is even better is that people may promote a brand simply by mentioning their name, “Like” a brand of Facebook or “Follow” a brand on Twitter. Companies are continuing to join and use social media sites each day to highlight a product or service, but where companies are missing the target is by not being conversational.
Businesses need to connect with their customers. People do not want to read press releases all day long but instead communicate with a company (if they choose). This does not mean businesses should not promote or publish press releases. Not at all. What this means is that businesses MUST do both.
Inform and Interact
Perhaps one option is for a company to first publish self promotional information in the morning and ask a question to the customers in the afternoon (engagement). Customers want to interact with people, even the people behind the brand. Businesses need to show their customer base that they care and are interested in what they have to say. People want to be heard and businesses should always be listening.
How Might Social Media Make Your Business Better
Social media is a tool just like any other communication tool. If a company (1) listens, (2) promotes and (3) engages its customers then it is well on its way towards a positive experience. This is not a short-term solution nor is it a reason to abandon other marketing strategies. Social media sites are additional tools to add to your existing methodologies. However, choosing to ignore social media is a weakness for your business and will allow your competition an opportunity to be found.
Social media is ultimately a way to become found by customers and allow them to learn more about your products/solutions. If a business is easily found on any social media site, people will choose to connect with you.
Be relevant to your customers, do not be invisible and give them a reason to connect with your competitor!
By Keith McIlvaine