Social media consists of a variety of websites that allow people to communicate with one another through an online community. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, YouTube, blogs and countless other social media outlets are used for networking, marketing, lead generation and countless other activities.
The world’s population, currently, spends 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites combined. Nearly 22 percent of all time spent by the world’s population on the Internet is dedicated to social media. Social media has changed the way people communicate and interact within companies.
How Can A Company Use Social Media to Their Advantage?
Social media may be used for lead generation, marketing, promotional purposes, public relations, customer service and problem resolution. The benefits of social media are far reaching. The younger generation is more familiar with the computer and would prefer to interact online rather than by phone. They find that when their requests are written, the company is more responsive. Companies that are responsive and offer good promotional items online build a better brand image.
Since social media is accessible by anyone that has access to the Internet through a computer or mobile device, this is an ideal way to communicate with individuals. The responses are immediate; whereas, traditional media may take days, weeks or months for a response. In the same way that responses are immediate, the campaign may also be modified instantaneously to yield different results. This is a great advantage for companies.
Traditional media is more permanent and requires more effort to remove the advertisement once it is launched.
There are millions of people that use the Internet daily, if only to find information about a product, service or for research. Business people have found that if they use social media tools to capitalize on the millions of people on the Internet, they can potentially have a global audience for their product or service. Social media is also less expensive than traditional modes of marketing through print, television ads and radio.
What are Some Social Media Strategies?
Companies developing a social media strategy must consider several components before developing a social media strategy. There are four components to consider before developing a strategy:
Build and Know Your Audience. Successful Internet marketing campaigns through social media require building an audience and knowing their interests and preferences. Companies have found that obtaining fans or followers is easier through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Instantaneously, customers can determine what their customers like and modify their product or service to meet the needs of their most loyal and frequent customers.
Is Location Specific to Your Business? Businesses need to know if the product or service they are providing is location specific or not. This will help them tailor their copy and marketing slogans to their audience. If you have a global audience, your marketing strategy needs to appeal to the masses and have a universal appeal. If it your company is marketing only locally, then knowing the community’s preferences is necessary.
Know Your Customer’s Preferences. On a social networking site, you must determine if the customer likes to talk about themselves, products, services or about other accomplishments. Depending on what your customers enjoy talking about, you should tailor your online forum to meet these needs.
Wal-Mart learned this the hard way. They talked to their customers about fashion and the latest trends. Unbeknownst to them, their customers wanted to talk about grocery and deeply discounted necessities. Always cater to your customers’ needs and preferences, when developing your strategy.
What Will Your Customer Gain From Your Social Media Strategy?
Successful social media strategies offer their customers something for participating in their social media forums. Some companies offer free product, a promotional offer, a discount or some other perk that may benefit the customer for participating in the social media website. Some even offer exclusive information or job leads to their customers signed up onto their social media websites. Companies offer anything that will entice the customer to continue to do business with them.
Zappos.com is an incredible example of a company that offers special perks to their customers. For instance, this company offers free shoes or discounts periodically to their most loyal fans. Prizes or sweepstakes may also be announced on their Facebook site.
What are the Existing Social Media Tools?
Facebook. Facebook allows companies to invite fans of their company to their site to view their latest product updates, post to their wall or ask questions about products or services. Clients may also interact with other fans. Facebook has 54% of the world’s Internet population visiting its website and is the third most visited site online. Each client spends approximately 6 hours on Facebook.
Twitter. Twitter allows followers to read updates about their favorite companies. In 140 characters or less, customers will be able to also contact customer service with a complaint or question. This is a useful tool in Social Media.
YouTube. Viral marketing relies on YouTube to get out the message about products through video production. As the videos are spread by word of mouth, the product or service gains more recognition and hopefully, more website traffic and sales conversions. Facebook has 47% of the world’s Internet population visiting its website and is the third most visited site online. Each client spends approximately 1 hour on Facebook.
Digg. If an article, blog, video or website is particularly entertaining, inspiring or controversial, the item is thought to be “Digg-Worthy.” Digg-worthy items receive the most publicity by gaining the title of the top article, blog or video on the Internet in a single day. Success is measured by page views.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn is geared more towards business professionals that network for business-to-business sales or for other business modalities.
How Do I Measure Success with Social Media?
Success with social media is measured in a variety of ways. The first and most obvious way is followers and fans. Followers and fans in the social media world are akin to sales leads. Your most avid fans or followers are your warm leads. Companies should address these fans first, because they are more likely to purchase than someone with no knowledge of the product or service.
Another way to measure success is by website traffic. Metrics can be provided in report form to allow companies to know how many people visited their website from a social media site. The more traffic a company receives, the more likely traffic will convert to a sale. Sales conversions are the third way that companies can measure online success of their marketing campaigns. Each of these metrics are provided in detail reports through a built-in reporting system.