Social media is a great way for people to engage with one another on the web. Peer to peer networking has in fact been around since the birth of the Internet. However, it has really taken off and gone main stream in the last ten years or so.
It is called social media for a reason. Users communicate and interact on the Internet in a social context. These interactions can include engagement as deep as spilling a 1,000 word blog post about your personal life or as simple as posting a picture of your new puppy on Facebook.
The rising popularity of social media and the increase in number of social networks has created a huge opportunity for businesses and organizations to improve their Internet marketing efforts. It offers you the opportunity to grow relationships and create brand loyalty with your customer base.
It is important to be a part of social media, because whether you’re interacting and listening or not, your customers are talking about you and other things relevant to your business and industry. Wouldn’t you want to be a part of that discussion?
Now, you might be saying, “What’s the point of placing valuable time and resources into social media. Isn’t it just a fad that will pass soon enough?” To put it simply, NO! Social media is not just a fad, it is here to stay.
Over the last ten or so years, social media platforms have exploded in popularity. There are several big ones out there including: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube. A lot of these have just become really popular in the last few years, and more platforms keep popping up all of the time.
Seems like social media might just be getting started. So, it is not too late to get your business or organization involved. In fact, now would be a good time to start. The need for social media marketing is growing stronger and stronger every day.
If you still don’t believe us, let’s take a look at some of the facts that point to social media being anything but a fad:
- 72% of online adults use social networking sites
- YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network
- Facebook has over 1.19 billion active users monthly
- Twitter is adding 300,000 users per day
- 75% of brand “likes” come from advertisements
It’s pretty clear that social media is here to stay, so why should your business start using it as a marketing tool?
Whether your a huge corporation or a small mom and pop shop (and everything in between) it’s pretty evident that your customers are online. They’re staying in touch with family, communicating with friends, networking with professionals, researching, and giving recommendations or warnings about companies’ products and services.
If you’re not around to interact with these customers and answer questions they are posing about your brand, you are missing out on a great opportunity to develop a relationship. Chances are, your competition is on there taking away your unsatisfied clients.
There are several of opportunities to add value to your brand through social media marketing. Establishing and maintaining a connection with your customer base can help build a relationship with those users. That relationship can become a huge asset to your marketing strategy by creating customer advocacy.
Customer advocacy is important because in difficult times and brand controversy, your loyal customers will not only continue using your products or service, but will also stick up for your company.
If you ever find yourself in a bind, your advocates will help remind the rest of the world who they’re rooting for. Advocacy is not something that you can stumble upon or buy. Advocacy is earned over time through continuous and positive engagement with your customer base. It is earned through experiences that delight, and through the delivery of the highest class of customer service. — Moz
Moz outlines the importance of advocacy above. Social media marketing is a great way to establish this advocacy and to engage with your loyal customers on another level.
Advocacy is the end goal of social media marketing. When you’ve reached true customer advocacy you can deem yourself a social media success. So, what does true advocacy look like?
When you’ve reached the top level of customer advocacy you will have done such a great job marketing your brand on social networks that your customers will love to brag about you.
They will post photos of the products they receive from you and exclaim how excited they are when the package arrives.
They will back you up when you’re facing media controversy. They will tweet about how great of a job you did when implementing a service, they will share your website with their friends on Facebook, or they could even share their personal experience with your brand on their blog.
The power of sharing is so valuable, which is why your company needs social media marketing. The key is to target the right people to be your new advocates.
There are a variety of social networking tools that you can use to analyze site data and customer data. That, along with your own observations to help you seek out the users that are likely to “go to bat for you for your team”.
You need to identify what you think are important traits in your advocates. What are they looking for when talking about your brand online?
Are they just talking to get attention or to get a reaction out of you (aka trolling), or are they actually excited about your brand and its offerings? Do they only care about your promotions, or would they buy your products regardless and the promotions are just a bonus? Do they value the content you post on your social channels or does it just add to the list of things they skip over?
Determine what type of advocates your company attracts and find ways to award them for their loyalty. Remember, relationships take time. Advocacy will not happen overnight. You need to work to establish strong relationships, then work to maintain them.
Your social media marketing plan will not occur overnight either. There will be a definite transition period when getting familiar with the different social channels. You are moving from a passive web brand to an interactive one, so give your company some time to adapt.
Social media is a huge factor of the Internet, which means it is a critical element to your success online. Do not ignore what customers are saying about you on the web, embrace it. Use it as an opportunity to steer the conversation in a direction that benefits not only you, but your customer base as well.
Use social media marketing as a tool to engage with customers, educate your clientele, humanize your brand, and drive traffic to your website.
Maybe the better title for this post would have been, “Why Wouldn’t My Company Use Social Media Marketing?”
Some of this content came from Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Social Media.