Every man and his dog is now using social media. Yep, that’s right, even dogs are now on Facebook. Uptake of social media platforms worldwide is growing exponentially. If you have any doubts about this, watch the following video:
The World of Social Media
Click here if you can’t see the video above http://youtu.be/H61WvxOm1AM.
If you can get past the spelling and grammar issues, you can’t deny that the video packs a punch with hard-hitting facts about the influence of social media.
But while you may be happily sharing family photos on Flickr and talking about what you had for breakfast with your friends on Twitter, I know there are many amongst you who are still unconvinced about the function and importance of social media in driving forward your business strategy.
Here are 15 Reasons why your business can’t afford to ignore social media.
1. Return on Investment (ROI)
The financial investment for social media campaigns is minimal compared to the amount you would need to spend on other marketing channels – like advertising and print – to get the same returns on new prospects. The reach of social media is endless, making the old ‘cost per contact’ measurements completely redundant (just look at the statistics on sharing in the video above). In addition, look at customer satisfaction, loyalty, interaction and feedback – all things you may previously have had to pay a market research company to gather.
2. Market-led Strategic/Product Development
Social media helps you to understand your customers. It gives your customers an opportunity to talk to you, and be involved in your development. It gives you an opportunity to listen to them and adjust your business strategy and product planning according to their needs, thus ensuring you offer the right products and services. And letting your customers shape your products and services will result in increased sales and business success for you, as you meet their needs. It’s called ‘crowdsourcing’.
3. Cost Effective Targeted Networking
Networking websites such as LinkedIn help you to target much more cost effectively the people you want to meet as clients or customers.
4. Proactive Public Relations (PR)
Customers will spend time talking to each other both on and offline, but are you making the most of the opportunities available through social media to ensure they are talking about you? And if they are talking about you, do you know what they are saying?
Social media and instant news through sites such as Twitter have taken control out of the hands of communications teams and placed it in the hands of everyone else – your customers, clients and potential complainants.
Far better to be part of the connected community, influencing and guiding what is said, rather than looking in from the outside – wondering about your competition is doing and what your customers are saying.
My Top 5 Social Monitoring Tools include:-
5. Reactive Public Relations (PR) and Crisis Management
News is now on Twitter within minutes. If you regularly engage with your customers in this way, you are much better placed to react quickly to negative PR. Being regularly involved in the language and etiquette of social media will also have taught you how to respond in an appropriate, sensitive and productive way to diffuse the situation – to know when and how to reply, and when to step back. Social media allows you to deal with customer service issues in real time, so there is no time for negative debates to fester. Here’s what not to do!
6. Competitor Benchmarking and Collaboration Opportunities
By joining in the discussions online, you can find out valuable information about what your contemporaries – what are people talking about, what is the latest news? But social media isn’t about sneaking around online. Sharing and collaboration is where the real value is to be found. With the explosion in new business start ups, self-employed/freelancers, networking groups and co-working spaces… collaboration is the new buzz word. And social media is one of the best ways of quickly identifying those collaborative opportunities with others in your industry.
7. Effective Internal Communications
To effectively drive for optimal business results, everyone in your organisation needs to be involved in your social media strategy. Most of your employees will probably already be active users of social media, so make the most of this existing forum to improve internal communications. Allow employees time to discuss ideas and share information online, especially effective if you are a multi-site organisation.
8. A Whole Company of Brand Ambassadors
Make the most of your employees’ time on social media websites. Put an employee social media policy in place that sets out the boundaries for usage, educates employees on how best to use social media to support business goals, then give them the tools and freedom to work on your behalf, promoting your business online. Social media helps you to communicate and share your brand values.
9. Strategic Communications Planning
View social media as a strategy, not a tactic. Consider the social media platforms – like blogs, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook etc – as tactics that tie into your social media strategy. Link the objectives of this strategy to your overall organisational and marketing objectives and you will see results a lot faster. Remember, while technology and software will change, people remain your key asset. So make sure everyone knows what your overall strategy is, and then support your strategy with tactics.
10. Increased Brand Awareness
An effective social media strategy increases brand awareness online by building a community and generating leads. Reaching new people online through effective social media campaigns is much quicker and easier than any kind of offline activity.
11. Improved Brand Perception
By placing yourself in amongst industry discussions and becoming a key contributor to discussions online, you are able to regularly reinforce your positive brand attributes. In doing so, people will come to know you and your organisation as one that is open to ideas, happy to listen and provide valuable contributions, and easy to communicate and engage with.
12. Establishing Thought Leadership
By maintaining a blog on your own site (like this SEO Blog), guest blogging on other websites, and regularly engaging in industry discussions, for example on LinkedIn discussion boards, you will quickly establish yourself as a thought leader. People are then more likely to seek you out for work, and you may even find yourself with invitations to appear as a guest speaker at key industry events.
13. Stay on Top of Industry Developments
Social media regularly reminds you to bookmark, subscribe and research new ideas. Once set up, Twitter pages, experts blog feeds and Google Alerts etc will literally pour industry news, tips, advice, and hot topics into your lap. Remember, if you’re not keeping in touch with it all, your competitors will be!
14. Source Patrons, Funders, Sponsors and Investors
Being an active participant and observer on platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn, you will quickly learn what people’s interests are, who is looking for opportunities, and what is the best way to approach them.
15. Connect with Key Industry Influencers
Whereas once you had to navigate the secretaries, spokespeople and various gatekeepers on the end of a telephone to beg for an appointment to speak to the industry bigwig, now you can ‘tweet’ them for an instant response. You can now quite easily find the key influencers in your industry using social media. It has opened the doors to allow anyone to connect with pretty much anyone. The opportunities are there for the taking.
Still not convinced? Just have a look at what your competitors are doing.
If you have any other reasons businesses should not ignore social media please add them below, or alternatively if you have any negatives to social media I would also be interested to hear about them so please comment right now. I’m Jonny Ross and I can help you with a social media strategy for your business, so give me a call on 0113 320 2121 or contact me now!