Social Media – The New Marketing Tool
5 February 2014
Social media is the fastest adopted communication medium in history. Every day millions of people are tweeting, posting, reading or watching content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs and myriad other sites.
Never before has a new method of communication had such an immediate impact on the way people live their lives. Social media encourages people to interact with companies, brands and people, and to form online communities by creating, publishing and sharing content.
According to ‘Tweet this Stat’:
- There are more than 3.5 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, etc.) shared each week on Facebook
- 43% of all online users are social media fans or followers
- 53% of people on Twitter recommend companies or products in their tweets
- 35 hours of video footage is uploaded to YouTube every minute
Social media is responsible for forging a new era in business transparency and engagement by creating new challenges and opportunities. A business can no longer rely solely on press releases and advertising to communicate and attempt to convince people that their products or services are the best in the field. In the age of social media, consumers want a more honest and direct relationship with the companies they do business with.
Social media marketing is increasingly becoming an important tool that every business can use to advertise their products or services, and in conjunction with traditional marketing, this can contribute toward the growth and success of your business.
Businesses are faced with a clear choice – to either ignore or to embrace this paradigm shift in the way we communicate.
So what can businesses do to transition and succeed in this new era?
Following are some handy tips to help get your business connected in the world of social media and maximise your presence.
- No cost to set up. Social media platforms are free to sign up to or register an account with – they are an extremely cost effective marketing tool.
- Share your story. People like to conduct business with businesses they know. By sharing your company’s story through posts, blogs and images you can create an emotional connection with your followers.
- Highlight your offering. Social media platforms offer an opportunity to market your products and services in a friendly and informal way. You can answer questions from potential customers, reveal features of your business or its products and offer ‘how-to’ advice to help social media users get to know you better.
- Drive traffic to your website. Your social media presence should always follow the objective of driving traffic to your website (as long as it’s up to date and well designed). An effective way to do this is to add links to your social media posts directing the user to further information on your website.
Although the benefits of marketing through social media are vast there are also some common pitfalls of which you need to be mindful.
- Hard selling. It may seem perfectly harmless to sell your products via social media but most users don’t want to be sold to. That’s not to say you shouldn’t promote your business (after all that’s the purpose), but you should do so in an indirect manner. For example, if a business is selling water tanks, don’t bombard people with prices or deals. Instead try talking to them about the environment or the price of excess water. This will encourage interaction, establish common ground and may lead to the reader clicking through to your website to buy one of your tanks. It’s all about sharing information which is relevant and helpful, not hard selling your products.
- It’s about quality not quantity. It is important to manage your social media campaigns like you manage the content on your website. Keep it regular (but don’t overload your followers) and keep it relevant.
- What your customers want. Rather than constantly pumping out updates and content, ask your customers what they think of your products or website. Create a poll for them to interact with and create a talking point (whilst at the same time potentially gathering some market research). The number one rule with social media marketing is to always respond to customers’ comments, regardless of whether they are favourable or unfavourable. This direct interaction with consumers will give your business a face and a personality and make people more inclined to want to give you their business.
Social media isn’t going away; research shows that it is becoming more influential in consumer decision-making. It’s no longer just about technology, it’s about relationships.
Stacey Hinton – Boyce Social Media Coordinator
Sources: Top 3 Social Media Bad Habits in Business - Social Media Today; Benefits of Social Media Marketing for your Business - Netable Software Solutions; The Advantages of Social Networking Promoting a Business - Houston Chronicle