Over the next five years, social media as a customer engagement tool is expected to grow by 57% (which would make it the second-most used channel for customer engagement, just behind face-to-face interaction).
We’re talking better than email, flyers and direct mail (although, those don’t really scream engagement now, do they?)
It doesn’t matter if you classify your business as big, small or mid-size; social media is for everyone and if you haven’t started thinking about how you’re going to use it in 2013, you need to start.
Size doesn’t matter
Social media isn’t about the size of your business. And in many cases, it’s not even about the size of your following or total “likes” to your Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. It’s about quality content that is relevant to your customers. Think about it: Would you rather have 3,500 Facebook fans that aren’t truly interested in your business or would you take 500 that are warm leads, truly engaged in your content.
The beauty of social media is that is levels the playing field for everyone. You just need to decide to get in the game.
Who’s on first
Getting started with social media can be very overwhelming–who has the time, what channels do you use, what is your message going to look like? The first thing you want to do is figure out what your game plan is. How will utilizing social media channels support your overall business goals and objectives? What pieces could you possibly take from a traditional marketing sense and turn into new media? Who will manage these pieces and how often will touch points happen?
One you have the foundation set, you can move on to drilling down your social media strategy and the exact needs of each platform.
Why your business should adopt social media
Not only may your customers may be everywhere from a geographical sense, they are literally everywhere from a communication sense. Age is becoming less of a factor as key audiences are using smartphones, desktops, tablets, etc. Your audience hits the Web to search for you online and they’re not stopping at your website (though that needs to be in tip-top shape as well). They’re checking to see what you’re doing and if you’re participating on social media.
Meet your customers where they are. Make it easy for them to get the answers they’re looking for. Provide solutions to their problems. Build relationships.
5 ways social media can support your business
Maybe you’re the one who needs convincing or maybe it’s the C-Suite that is having trouble getting on board. Regardless, the following list includes 5 ways in which using social media can be (and should be) of great benefit to your business:
1. Social responsibility
Your customers want to know about your social responsibility. What are you doing to give back? To support the community at large? It is easy to showcase these activities and support through social media.
2. Develop relationships
Engage in dialogues with your customers and potential customers online in order to nurture relationships and learn about their specific needs. Do you know if your products are truly enjoyed? Is there a customer service aspect of your business that can be helpful to handle through online tools? Many times, your customers make a purchase on your website or in your store and you don’t get to know them on a personal level. Social media gives insight to needs, personalities and potentially, future buying decisions. Careful though: You must be real and authentic. No fake relationships here.
3. Sales leads
In a recent survey by Hubspot, 67% of B2C (business to consumer) companies and 41% of B2B (business to business) companies acquire customers with Facebook. And that’s just one platform. There are 1 billion monthly active users on Facebook. What if you were able to capture just a fraction of those as leads?
Social media offers ways to gather information about consumers and invite them to be a part of your community in ways that you are probably not doing by use of traditional marketing tactics. Take advantage of this.
4. Marketplace analytics
How are you keeping tabs on your competition? How do you discover what’s coming up in the marketplace? Social media is open to search and other key demographic, company and public information for you to keep an eye on the consumer and your competition. It’s a whole new level of awareness. It’s like watching the game footage before the big competition. Study the tapes. Know the moves you need to make.
5. Brand awareness and personality
Do you ever think, “If we could just talk to people or get them in the door, I know we’d secure their business?” It’s because people need to build relationships and understand the client/business connection before feeling great about their purchase or next big service agreement. Social media give you an opportunity to showcase your brand voice, personality and sense of customer service out in the open, for all to see and evaluate on their time.
Social media is the new area of word-of-mouth marketing. It showcases your brand, is measurable and can produce exponential growth as your fans share your content with their friends, family and peers. And if you’re truly engaging, social media allows you to build trust with your customers and potential customers.
Being a part of the social media game is definitely about a healthy mix of new and old. I don’t advocate for businesses dropping their email strategy or other marketing tactics that are working. Build a well-rounded marketing strategy that includes a mix of new and traditional marketing tools.
Social media is anybody’s game. All you need to do is play.
Parts of this post originated as a guest article for Creativity at Last.