Cast your eyes to the right of the page. Under the heading ‘follow us!’ you’ll notice some icons. It’s likely that you’ll be very familiar with the icons and the companies behind them. They are of course social media networking companies. You and your customers probably make daily use of at least one of these social media networks. They can be an invaluable way of staying in touch with friends and family and displaying individuality. But like any marketing tool, you do need to know how to use it effectively. Remember, social media can be invaluable, but you must know how to leverage it effectively.
Social Media Advantages & Pitfalls
Having a presence on social media sites is now expected if you are to be taken seriously, but you must be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages. One big advantage has to be that companies both large, medium and small have the opportunity to connect instantly with the target audience bypassing more expensive and traditional forms of marketing (eg. TV, Print Advertising etc.). The linkage between the two groups starts whenever an individual clicks on a Facebook ‘like’ button or decides to follow a particular company/brand on Twitter. Yet there are downsides, as a PR gaffe or in-house scandal can lead to a digital fire-storm of bad publicity: resulting in real damage being done to a brand. It’s almost impossible to remove material posted online and to attempt to close down a page of comments on a social media site just because they reflect poorly on your brand will only further alienate your audience. Just one line posted on your company’s social media page has the potential to boost or kill your sales. Bad press has always existed, but it used to originate from the traditional media whereas now it can come arrowing in from all your customers via a social media page.
Key Steps to remember
There are some important things to remember if you are to use social media as a key part of your marketing strategy. If you stick rigidly to these steps, then you can make the networks dance to your tune!
1. Have a clear goal of what you want to achieve for your brand in mind
2. Do not use more social media channels then necessary - Linkedin may be useful for someone trying to get a new job, but it is next to useless for a company trying to sell potted pans.
3. Routine – Like all marketing tools, you must ensure you use the social media channels you have on a regular basis. Failure to do so will result in poor connection and therefore conversion with your target audience.
4. Shortcut tools – Make your life easier by installing tools that help you monitor and update your social media connection with your audience. These are usually free and can be found all across the web. Having to log in and out of individual accounts will become impossible to manage and will damage your brand and any potential conversion you want to gain with your audience.
History and Potential
Five or ten years ago retail companies and media outlets had websites but they didn’t possess the ability for consumers to engage in a dialogue. Businesses through their sites would conduct only monologues à la Alan Bennett, with the consumers playing the part of a silent audience. Information about products, prices and store locations would be doled out to consumers, outside of the provision of a general telephone number and email address. Nowadays through Facebook wall posts and Twitter tweets, businesses of whatever size can gauge potential demand for an upcoming release, instant reaction to the released new product, whether customer service needs tweaking or reconstructive surgery, etc. There is no excuse any more for being deaf to customers’ demands or complaints, businesses have to start listening. There’s a motto that’s long been in existence, you should know it by heart. We’ll start you off and you finish: “The customer is…”