As a marketer, I absolutely love social networks as channels to communicate internally and externally. They offer the unique opportunity for brands to fully engage in conversations with employees, customers and potential customers. Never before have such personalized one-on-one interactions been as accessible and at a relatively low cost.
However participating in social media comes at one risk. When your business or brand has a page / handle/ account on a social networking site – people expect you to show up and engage according to the nuances of THAT particular channel. There is no such thing as “one size fits all” where you can copy and paste your posts on multiple channels. Each one has a different way of engaging and a different purpose or behavior of the members of that community. So pick your channels according to where your target market chooses to spend their time and attention – then go all in and do it right.
When your business or brand has a page / handle/ account on a social networking site – people expect you to show up and engageaccording to the nuances of THAT particular channel.
Here are 10 reasons why I advise businesses and brands to actively pursue social media channels to grow their business.
1. People are talking about you, whether you ignore them or not.
Conversations are happening all the time, whether you are aware of them or not. People are talking about your product, your service, your industry and your competitors. You have three choices:
- Ignore the conversations (please don’t do this)
- Participate in the conversations (at the very least you should do this)
- Actively lead the conversations (the best choice)
I advise you participate in the conversations where relevant and lead them where appropriate. Conversations with your social communities are excellent opportunities for learning and sharing.
2. If Google can’t find you… no one can. Social networking improves SEO (Search Engine Marketing).
Simply put: great content gives you excellent “Google juice” and good content coupled with high engagement on social networks, will assist your brand to build more relevancy and better visibility on search engines like Google. This improves your organic search results, bringing you higher on the search results list and giving you a competitive advantage.
3. Snoop on competitors
Social networks are ideal channels to monitor what your competitors are doing. New product announcements, surveys, posts and tweets are excellent sources of information about what is happening in their business. When you know what your competitors are doing, you also know how to beat them.
4. Customer service and support
Companies are becoming more aware of their online brand reputation in today’s world where most of our pre-purchase research is taking place online. Consumers research products and services on multiple platforms before making decisions. Reviews, ratings, compliments and complaints from customers factor highly in the decision making process.
Social networks afford you two things:
1. The ability to listen to your customers (and potential customers) and to respond to their queries very quickly.
2. The ability for that public response (which is recorded online forever) to influence other people who are researching your product. The way your business takes care of customers will have a direct impact on whether you attract or repel new ones.
Sometimes bad news should come from you first.
Brands who use social networks for crisis management are able to manage expectations and avoid backlash – even when the news is not good. For example: a delayed flight announced on twitter by the airline, or an outage announcement by a service provider – can manage customer expectations and reduce the number of irate telephone calls, tweets, posts and messages.
5. The resume (or CV) as we know it – is dead.
Social networks are being used by employers and employees as an integral part of the recruitment process. The way a company conducts themselves in digital channels shows a potential candidate whether that company cares about their staff and customers – or not. It is more credible than brochure-ware and feedback from the public provides social proof of whether or not the business lives up to its brand promise.
Likewise, the way an individual engages in the public domain – shows a business so much more than a history of employment listed on a piece of paper.
6. More bang for your buck
With targeted marketing on social media you can make sure that you get the right message, to the right person at the right time – for maximum impact. Digital marketing allows you to track an action right back to the source of the information so that you know which messages are working and which are not. Managing your communications in real time, you can optimize campaigns with immediate effect to maximize your return on investment – at a faster and cheaper cost than traditional media.
7. Lead generation
Traditional above-the-line marketing depends on data such as GRPs (Gross rating points), estimated foot traffic, subscription numbers, print run, etc. At best these are estimates of the potential size of the audience of that channel. Social media networks have access to personal data of each member of that community. The richness of this data is staggering. Not only do you know the size of the audience, but you know their specific demographic information right down to personal interests and hobbies. You have access to their friends and their friends’ friends too! You can target people who “look like” your customers who are more likely to buy your product or service. You can target your marketing by almost any segment (or combination of segments) possible such as age, gender, area, education, interests, brands followed, etc.
8. If you don’t represent your brand, someone else might…
In the same way that we protect our trademarks and brands offline, we should do the same online. If you don’t claim that handle, URL, account, page, etc. in your brand’s name – someone else might beat you to it.
We’ve all heard stories of brands who were misrepresented online. If you don’t manage your social media accounts – you are at risk of hackers accessing your accounts and posting on your behalf.
9. Build a tribe of raving fans
When a business adds significant value to their social communities, they are able to build a highly engaged and loyal “tribe”. (See “Tribes” by Seth Godin). This group not only eagerly awaits new product launch announcements and special offers – but also advocates and promotes your products and services to their friends.
10. More than just a bunch of likes
I once had more likes than Justin Bieber (at a huge cost) and it meant absolutely nothing (see the story here). Until I learned how to engage the community in valuable interactions and conversations; the number of likes was nothing more than a vanity metric.
Active social communities allow companies and brands to engage with their customers on a deeper level. You can do research, run surveys or do some testing. It is the ideal place to ask about possible new products, enhancements or features – to measure interest before you embark on expensive development.
Social media is growing and ever changing. Different groups appeal to different networks. Ten years ago there was no Facebook, twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snap-chat, whats-app, we-chat or smartphones. Yet today, they’re an integral part of our modern landscape.
Know your target market. Know where they spend their time and attention. Understand the reason why they are on those platforms before you engage with them. You can’t be present on every social network. You can’t be relevant to everyone all the time. So choose the right channels and join in the social revolution – or ignore it at your risk.
This article first appeared on LinkedIn
Bronwyn Johnson is the Head of Marketing for Liberty Group Direct Services. She was responsible for launching and growing the OLX (online classifieds) business in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. She owns a new eCommerce site where South African artist can advertise and sell their art at www.showcase.zone.
She is also the founder and editor of www.swatswot.com – a website for Christians.