The Use of Social Media in Business
I can pretty much guarantee you that when Facebook first came out, you would never have thought of using social media in business.
Nowadays businesses are faced with a whole new ball game when it comes to marketing their products and services. Customers hold the power today.
Hard-selling and cold-calling are considered blasphemy amongst customers and have been replaced with ideas such as open conversation and indirect marketing.
That's where social media comes in. There are loads of articles, blog posts and opinion pieces out there about the importance of social media in business.
But, do you still consider using social media as sailing your ship in unchartered waters?
Then you need to read this!
It's not just a good idea to have your company listed on social media sites, it's imperative! Especially if you are a consumer products company - chances are your customers are already talking about you.
You need to join in on that conversation to protect your brand.
Let's go through the use of social media in business:
1. Joining in the conversation
Yes, your company is most likely already being discussed on social media sites without your knowledge.
Disgruntled customers could be giving your business a bad name, and you aren't even able to protect your brand.
Whilst the idea of your customers being able to post negative comments about your brand publicly is one the most daunting aspects about social media use, this is going to happen whether you are participating in the conversation or not.
At least if you are present on social media, you will be able to see these negative posts and rectify them - building brand credibility as you transform each disgruntled customer into a satisfied one.
2. Keeping top of mind
Even though you may not be hard-selling your products and services and seeing immediate sales results, you need to keep in mind that building relationships takes time.
By having a presence on social media, you are constantly engaging with your customers by providing them with interesting and relevant information.
This way you'll stay top of their mind and when they do realise they need a product or service that you are selling, they'll know exactly where to come. Without you having to hard-sell anything.
3. Getting to know your customers and what they want
This is ultimately the best part about social media. You can actively engage your audience and get their opinion about existing products and services, as well as potential or future products or services you may be thinking of opening up to the market.
You may find that there isn't a need for a product that you had in mind, and that your customers prefer one of your classic products because it's working. You don't get this kind of willing customer input anywhere else.
4. Low cost and possibly even free marketing
Social media isn't going to cost you a lot. Especially if you do it yourself. You just need to make sure you know what you're doing - there's been quite a few social media in business bloopers recently.
The most you'll pay for is if you want to increase your following, and fast, with paid adverts, or if you hire an agency to manage your accounts for you.
Either way, the cost is minimal.
Given the above uses of social media in business, it's important to understand which social media sites are suitable for your kind of business.
There's Facebook, with over 500 million users, but they may not be the audience you are targeting. You may want to look at other platforms such as LinkedIn, which is where you'll find all your professionals and job seekers, and there's Twitter for networking.
MySpace has a much younger audience and you even get industry-related social media sites that are specifically targeted to one industry.
It's crucial to understand who your audience is, and which platforms they frequent.
Takeaway: Old hard sale tactics and traditional marketing aren't working as effectively anymore. Customers have control of the means in which they receive their advertising messages, as a business you need to tap into that.