Social media is an integral key to your marketing strategy. You don’t need to be told why. Nor do you really need hear us expound at length on the changing times. The rapidly evolving climate of business and marketing is inextricably linked to technological advancement. In fact, the business and social media relationship has become so symbiotic that there are currently several degrees offered that specialize in the field.
So while it’s no surprise the University of Florida and Southern New Hampshire University, to name a few that offer social media programs, value the intersection of the two… has your business traversed into the fruitful arrangement that can be social media marketing? If not, here are some of the ways to get started (along with some of the reasons).
It seems like the bulk of benefits from adding social media to your business strategy can be separated into two main groups. Bear in mind there are a plethora of extra reasons to do it – and we certainly can’t cover them all.
Generally speaking, social media enables businesses to power up and further illuminate these two areas: research and communication.
Let’s look first at the ways that social media can be used for strategic market research.
Reach more people
When a social media strategy is successfully employed, there is potential for quite the outreach. More eyes and ears are watching and listening to your brand. Friends that “like” or “follow” a business pop into each other’s feeds, escalating public awareness. The larger your audience becomes, the more likely it is to convert people into customers.
Find out what customers are looking for
With social media, you can find out explicitly what you’re customers really want. By tracking their “likes” and comments, you can gather indispensible knowledge about their feelings, needs, and desires. You can even open direct dialogues with them, posing specific questions about products you might want to offer to see exactly what the people think.
Test new products
With video sharing and image posting, you can test out the market with new products and campaigns. Results are easily trackable within the platforms, and you gain access to real-time responses. This can make it easy to get back to the lab for tweaks and modifications, enabling you to give your customers precisely what they want. It also helps you store up an easy portfolio of brilliant ideas for the future.
Gather data and target audiences
Social media platforms are naturally a great way to gather all kinds of data, including statistics that might not be so blatant. You can also learn about shared interests within your customer base that might provide true insight on the direction of your business. Additionally, certain platforms like Facebook will actually let you run ads directed at users that include specific things in their profiles. Need to reach people that like ice cream? Check. It’s that easy.
Social media has emerged as a new titan in the facilitation of human interaction, inciting plenty of exciting theoretical discussion about what it means to engage in discourse nowadays. But what does this mean for a business? Let’s look at how businesses can utilize social media to build and master good communication practices.
Demonstrate authority and engage in industry dialogue
Using social media, you can beef up your reputation by posting articles, blog posts, and statuses on hot topics that indicate your superior level of authority on the market. You can also seek out well-respected leaders in your industry and exchange guest blogs, comments, and news. By demonstrating know-how through your own posts and interaction with other industry giants, you tell your customers that they can trust you. You also promote a readiness to grow, eager willingness to engage, and an authoritativeness that can position you alongside with your mentors.
Show off your company culture
With the ability to post videos and upload images in a single click, you now have the chance to brag a little bit. What makes your company special? The rigorous Wii battles in the break room? The food trucks on Fridays? You also know you have the best employees out there. After all, you hired them! Letting people see the faces behind the business really make an impact. Showing off your culture is a great way to build trust and facilitate a sense of community – both of which create important, lasting relationships.
Locate new partners and talent
Nothing makes finding people easier than social media. Locate promising new talent through LinkedIn and even Facebook; the platforms give you access to more candidates than you could ever imagine. Maybe it’s time to extend a hand and seek out a new partner – using networking sites like LinkedIn can help you cull potential contacts.
Engage with customers
Of course, social media provides a critical opportunity to engage with customers. Building long-lasting relationships is a key to future success, and the platforms are perfect for enhancing the dialogue you have with your clientele.
Here are some specific ways you can engage with customers using social media.
Share, share, share. And ask for it back. With video apps like Vine and YouTube, you can get both informative and creative with your brand’s content. By asking your customers to share their media with you, you facilitate a range of exciting new conversation. Prompt them to post pictures of their favorite birthday presents on your company’s anniversary, or ask for short video clips based on April Fool’s Day jokes. But set restrictions. Sharing requires boundaries, and proper ones will help keep your community feeling safe and comfortable.
Respond to concerns
It happens with every business. Your customers are going to have concerns. Social media is a natural outlet for these situations, and it’s perfectly fine to address them right in the platform. In fact, it’s worse to ignore them. Don’t be silent! Here is your chance to illustrate exactly why you are a leader in your industry. Do it with grace and professionalism, carefully considering each issue and its range of solutions. A well-managed response to customer concerns can go a long way. Let them know that you take care of your people.
Integrate customer support
Some businesses are choosing to embed their customer support right into social media platforms. Instead of relying solely on the cost center, you can offset that expense by promoting support through Facebook or Twitter. 57% of customers that have a product issue go online to try to solve it before going anywhere else (according to Media Bistro). By making support available through social media, you’ll make your customers happy – so long as it’s good support. Response time is important and be forthcoming with information. No one likes to get the runaround.
Everyone loves getting a gift, and social media is the perfect opportunity to reward those customers who really support your brand. Offering promotions and sweepstakes right through the platforms generates interest, awareness, and excitement. It’s a quick, sure-fire way to inspire new visitors and subscribers to your social media platforms.
Social media certainly isn’t a fad – and a strong marketing strategy is a must for any business. Most importantly, here is where the true voice of your brand is heard. Make sure that it is professional, well-cultivated, and smartly designed. Tweet away!
Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard