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Approach any group of business owners or managers and chuck out the phrase “Social Media Marketing”. Step back. Watch the reactions.
Despite raging success and adoption across all demographics of consumers, social media marketing still divides professionals between the 'Love It' and the 'Hate It' camps. To our total astonishment, there are still business owners out there who actively chose to ignore social media as part of their business.
That is why we’ve put together this Top 10 List (although we could probably continue all day) of reasons why we think ignoring social media is wrong:
Social media is an incredibly powerful channel for customer service. 65% of UK customers prefer social media to the phone for customer service. That is GAME CHANGING. Not having the right social media channels for your customers to reach out to you is the 1995 equivalent of not having a phone line.
But here’s the twist: It’s all public, so any customer complaints or compliments will be seen by everyone. For some brands, this has been scary enough to keep them far away. But, if you offer great customer service, social media will allow you to show the world just how great you really are. Think of this as a huge opportunity to build awesome relationships with your current customers, and begin stealing customers from your competitors who aren’t acknowledging their social media platforms.
Doing it right: Xbox created @XboxSupport, a Twitter account solely for customer service and they hold the Guinness World Record for the most responsive brand on Twitter. Kudos guys!
Brand awareness takes time to build, and showcasing your brand across social media channels is one of the most efficient avenues for doing this. By sharing your own content from your specific industry expertise, you begin to build your authority as a credible business that potential customers begin to recognise and trust – which ultimately leads to conversions.
Monitor Your Competition
Admit it… We all do it. Constantly social-media-stalking your competitors (I’m talking about business competitors, not your ex. Although we do that too.). Social media is nearly as good as tapping your competitors’ phone lines – and has the advantage that it’s totally legal and normal. By monitoring the competition’s social accounts, you can keep a direct line on what their business is up to, what they are promoting, who their customers are – and even watch out for poor customer service leaving you an avenue to jump in there with an offer. (Take Walmart’s Black Friday poaching technique on BestBuy customers, for example). Powerful stuff!
Beat Your Competition
Have you avoided social media because you don’t see anyone else in your industry on there?
Their lack of presence is your golden opportunity. By being the brand that turns to social media to connect with customers, you steal the spotlight and make a name for yourself as modern and tapped-in – and leaving your competition looking archaic. Excellent.
Community Building and Brand Advocacy
Brands that embrace the social element of social media have unlocked the secret: build a community; not just a customer base.
By using social media as a two-way channel and engaging with customers, you begin to develop customers who love your brand and stay loyal to it. They become part of your brand’s community and share their product recommendations with their followers. And then your fans grow. This is called brand advocacy, and it is the holy grail of marketing.
Work the Search Engines
SEO (search engine optimisation) is a tricky game. SEO tactics change constantly and require the expertise of skilled wizards (commonly referred to as SEO Experts), but there is still a big part that us commoners can play in aiding our brand’s Google ranking – social media. By building social proof through networks, creating original content on your blog, and updating love-it-or-hate-it Google+, you can boost your brand’s search engine visibility significantly.
This is a huge topic, so take some time to check it out online.
Social Media is Easy on Your Marketing Budget
Traditional advertising is PRICEY. Worse than that, customer trust in advertising is pathetically low. If you are a small business or start-up, the costs of running advertisements can crush your budget in an instant. The comparative cost and success rate of social media are a no-brainer for getting the word out about your brand. Note: Let's be very clear – Social media is NOT. FREE. Although signing up for accounts on social platforms is free, it does take time and expertise, and your time is money! You may need to enroll yourself in proper training, or hire staff with the ability to manage your online communities. Delegate budget accordingly.
A Two-Way Recruitment Channel
Social media is great for advertising openings at your company and connecting with potential employees. You can check them out and find out what they’re into via whatever social networks they leave open – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter… whatever is relevant. This is a great way to find passionate people who display their talents.
Flip it around. The best, most talented staff want to work somewhere awesome. Before applying for a position, prospective employees will surely look you up online and judge whether they want to be part of your company accordingly. A social media presence that portrays your company’s culture will encourage top-talent to pursue jobs with you. And after all, it’s all about people, right?
In our social world, where every change and update is subject to open publication and conversation through online social platforms, bad news can seem like really, really bad news. Angry protesters taking to Facebook feeds and starting Twitter hashtags can erupt a PR disaster. Take disgraced RBC, or the (better-handled) product recall of Lululemon. In the event of customer dissatisfaction, regardless of whether you have a profile or not, they will vent through social media.
That fact alone is enough to keep many brands away from social media. Paralysing fear of having their brand tarnished on the interweb results in tight-laced, counterintuitive social media policies and heads in the sand. But that’s just pointless. Whether or not you respond to social criticisms, people are going to post them. If you delete your Facebook page, they are still going to post their rants and their friends will see it. You – can – not – control – people. Stop trying.
Clearly, it is advantageous to have a social platform in order to be part of this conversation. Customers will see that you are acknowledging the crisis, and not ignoring it. Not involving yourself in social media during times of PR-disaster sends a clear message: “WE DON’T GIVE A TRIP”.
American Red Cross owned it when an employee with the keys to the Twitter account tweeted about #gettingslizzard through the wrong account by mistake.
Social media is great for catching conversations that are happening around your brand or your industry. If you have the expertise on your team, you can actually monitor social channels to find prospective customers and reach out to them. Powerful stuff!
There are oodles of creative ways to do this – but here’s a list of 50 to get you started.
What’s Holding You Back?
Despite these no-brainers, there are still companies – new and old, big and small – who avoid social media. What holds you back? We’d love to hear your barriers to unlocking the amazing marketing power of social media; please comment below!