I think that before anyone can launch into a social media campaign with any confidence they have to truly appreciate the benefits of Social Media Marketing. It certainly is the buzz now but how can Social Media really help your business. Let's see.
We know that an enormous number of people are accessing the social networks to connect with each other and now we need to understand why this type of marketing is so different from other forms of marketing and why it is so important for your business. The main reason is that social media marketing is fundamentally more effective. Consumers today are smart, they are tired and suspicious of traditional forms of advertising, more often than not they will fast forward a TV commercial, switch channel or skip a printed page with an advertisement on it. Todays consumers want to hear that a product has been tried and tested, they want to see a product being demonstrated and they often need a recommendation from a trusted source to make a purchase, most probably a friend. Here are some reasons why social media marketing is more effective than other more traditional marketing methods:
Social media offers you the opportunity to find the right target audience
Never before has it been so easy to find and access your target audience. With the information that most of the social networks hold about their users you can now target and find the very people who are more likely to buy your products or services.
Social media allows you to have a direct contact with your customer
Literally you have the opportunity to communicate directly and stay in touch with your customer, unlike traditional forms of advertising. For example, with a Facebook business page , a ‘places’ page, A Google + page or a page on Foursquare you can stay in touch with your customers well after they have left your establishment or bought your product and you can send them offers to encourage them to return or buy again.
Social media marketing harnesses the power of peer recommendation
The majority of people trust recommendations by others. Social media marketing is the only media that can harness the most powerful form of advertising, word of mouth, by making it possible for consumers to communicate with each other and vote for products or services by pressing the ‘like’ or ‘follow’ button.
Helps builds your brand
Never has there been so much opportunity to build your brand. Your brand is simply the most valuable asset of your business. Your brand is what differentiates you from other businesses, it is the image people have of your business and it establishes loyalty. With social media you have the opportunity to engage with consumers and build positive brand associations in a way that no other media can. Consumers now have the choice and opportunity to follow your brand and if they do, this means they actually want to hear or see what you have to say.
Humanises your bran
Social media allows you to communicate with your audience in a totally unique way. Your brand is no longer a rigid logo but a personality, not only can you show your appreciation and the value you place on your audience but they can also grow to love your brand too. No other type of marketing allows this type of two way live communication.
Offers continual exposure to your product
Social media marketing allows you to be continually in contact with your followers. Once you have your audience they can hear from you and see your brand on a daily basis. Statistics prove that on average a person needs to see or connect with a brand 7 times before they buying it. This is a difficult and costly goal to achieve with traditional forms of advertising but incredibly easy with social media marketing.
The Consumer has a choice
Unlike other traditional methods of advertising the consumer has the opportunity to be exposed to your product by choice, they can opt in or out whenever they want.
Your audience is relaxed and receptive
The majority of people are accessing social accounts to be social and in their own leisure time. Social media is all about connecting with friends and relatives, meeting new people and making new contacts. People are far more receptive to hearing from a brand in their own time when they are relaxed, as long as the brand is not continually pushing their product.
You can continually engage with your audience
Social media marketing allows you to have an ongoing dialogue with your audience like no other media. Fans or followers who have interacted with a business on social media are far more likely to visit their online store than those who did not.
Once your followers choose to interact or share your content then this interaction is seen by their network of friends who are then also exposed to your brand. This is how viral growth happens which results in audience growth and brand awareness, more prospects, more customers and increased sales.
Social media is an asset to your business
Unlike other forms of advertising where you see your marketing investment disappear your social media account becomes a valuable asset. If you are using your social media marketing correctly your network will grow, you will be building trust and your asset will increase in value. With traditional advertising once an advert is delivered the connection with the buyer is over and you see your investment literally disappear.
It is like having your own broadcasting channel
Once you have your campaign set up and your follower numbers are growing, you literally have your very own broadcasting channel which you own. You can communicate with your followers about anything 24/7. Nobody can take this away unless of course you are not running it correctly and you are losing followers. If you provide content that is so useful and interesting, your followers will keep coming back again and again to check if you have anything new to say. You then have a following of people who will associate your valuable content and their positive experience with your brand.
You can offer your customers proof of trading
Having a social media presence which is active and engaging helps to reassure customers that your business actually exists. They can easily check, by comments left by customers, whether your business is reputable and trustworthy and they are far more likely to buy from you once they see your active presence on social media.
Improve your search engine ranking
Google counts social sharing when ranking your website or blog. If people are finding your content valuable then the search engines will register that and then rank you accordingly. Social media sites are highly ranked in the search engines and having a well optimised profile is yet another way of being found on the internet.
Opens up a worldwide playing field
It used to be only the large companies who could afford to build their brand and have the opportunity to access thousands of potential customers. Now everybody with a business has the opportunity to reach thousands of people both nationally and globally, grow their business and benefit from one of the most powerful forms of marketing. Having a business no longer has to be a lonely island you literally have the opportunity to get your message heard by thousands of people through social networking.
Provides advantages for the consumer
With just a few clicks of the mouse or the tap of a smart phone, consumers can be in contact with any business very quickly. For once their opinions are important, taken seriously and valued, they can contact a brand for customer service issues or just follow a brand because they are interested. For the first time they have a voice and a very powerful one. This is showing in the continual rise in the number of people following brands. People want to remain close to the brands they are interested in.
You can listen to your customers.
You can now hear what your customers are saying about your product or service and you can use this information to improve or develop your products and improve your customer service. This will result in your business becoming more transparent and shows your customers that you care and value their opinion which ultimately leads to more trust for your brand.
You can become a thought leader.
By producing valuable and rich content for your audience you can become a thought leader. Not only will this help if you are a personal brand but will also help in building respect and reputation for any business or brand.
You can make a difference.
With social media you can actually make a positive difference to people’s lives. Once you know your audience you can provide content for them which is of value to them and is actually going to help them in some way. Helping your audience like this goes a long way and will hopefully result in them remembering your business when they are ready to make that purchasing decision.
Never has there been so much opportunity to have direct access to so many people and neither has there been so much opportunity for businesses of any size to have ongoing contact with so many of their potential customers. This is a marketeer or business owner’s dream.
Is Social Media Actually working for business?
It is evident that the majority of major brands are running successful social media marketing campaigns. These brands are investing huge amounts of money, time and resources into this type of marketing, however you don’t have to go too far to see whether social media marketing is actually working for business, simply ask yourself these questions:
Would you prefer to buy a product if you knew that a friend or somebody you know of had tried it?
Would you prefer to buy a product from a business or person that you do know rather than a business or person that you don’t know?
If you were thinking of buying a product from a business you had no history with, would you go and look to see if they had a social media site and see what other people were saying about their product?
If you answered yes to these questions then you can be pretty sure that social media marketing does actually work for businesses. It has to work doesn’t it?