Once thought of as a useless trend of tech-crazed adolescents, social media has barged into the business world with a head of steam. Approximately 57 percent of business find value in social media, according to bizjournals.com, while a Nielsen survey revealed that almost two thirds of marketers plan to increase their social marketing budgets in 2013.
No longer a frivolous waste of time, social media is a potentially game-changing tool for small businesses. A smorgasbord of tweets, pics and posts doesn’t equal a successful social media strategy, however. Social media marketing is free, but consumers respond to content that adds to the ongoing conversation rather than drawing attention to itself. Social media is a two way street, so users expect businesses to respond to customer service requests via Twitter, Facebook and other platforms.
If you’re knew to the social media game or just looking for upgrade, these techniques will boost professional relationships and grow your business.
photo Jason A. Howie
Free Marketing …With a Catch
Social media is especially advantageous for start-ups, many of which don’t have a significant marketing budget. Businesses can build their brand and establish relationships with potential customers for free, but that doesn’t mean social media supplants traditional marketing. Unlike a billboard, commercial or newspaper ad, social media content wasn’t originally meant for marketing. Rather, it spawned from users’ desire to connect and share information. Businesses that follow the traditional advertising playbook that includes rampant calls to action, idea repetition and brand consistency will struggle to gain a following on social media platforms.
Relationship building is social media’s primary function. Instead of relentlessly pumping your product, advertise naturally within the conversation of the day. Amex might introduce social media followers to the Plum Card at American Express along with a link to a new Congressional bill that makes it easier to start a business. Offer your products with relevant context and you’ll stay in users’ good graces.
Customer-Dictated Customer Service
For better or worse, social media gives consumers a megaphone to shout their grievances. Instead of waiting to speak with rude representatives on the phone, consumers simply offer their opinion of a company on Facebook or Twitter, influencing their network of friends and followers. Business quickly caught on to this trend, and social service emerged. Under this model, businesses seek to resolve issues that customers raise on social media platforms. The benefits are two-fold: 1) You earn good will with begrudged customers, hopefully retaining their business, 2) Both you and the customers network witnesses your proactive customer service, potentially leading to more business.
Socialmention.com enables you to track the conversation about your business. Reach out to frustrated customers. You’ll keep them coming back and gain new business.
Content is King
Brands don’t rise to social media prominence just through consistency or tone. Content reigns supreme in the social universe. Old Spice is a model of success in the social media world. It’s outlandish new soap commercial received hundreds of retweets. While it probably bought TV advertising time for its new spot, thousands saw these commercials online without Old Spice paying a dime.
Create exceptional content and the viral cycle will do the rest.