People use social media to communicate and network online. Believe it or not, it has been around since the birth of the Internet, but in the last decade we have seen a huge explosion in both in popularity and the number of social media channels. It's called social media because people use it in a social context, which includes conversations, commentary, and other user-generated notes and engagement interactions (images, blogs, videos, etc.) Social isn't just for individuals, it's also a great marketing tool for business.
Producing content has become much simpler over the last several years, which has assisted in the explosion of social media use. Internet content creation is not just for the tech savvy anymore. Users of all shapes and sizes can now create content on a variety of different platforms. Today's Internet has shifted from a "one-to-many" to a "many-to-many" method of communication, and Internet marketers are loving it!
The shift in online consumerism and the associated increase usage of social media brings both responsibility and opportunity for your business. The pure amount of data that customers make available through social media alone has online marketers acting like it's Christmas morning and Santa just stopped by. The real excitement, however, lies in the opportunity to grow enduring and scalable relationships with your customer base through social media. This is also where your responsibility to your customers begins to form. Much like their online behaviors, your customer's expectations for your behavior online have changed. Customers are having relevant conversations to your business, whether your there or not. You need to be there to listen and engage, and even dictate the conversation in your favor.
Let's take a Money Ball approach to this question and look at the statistics of social media. Over the last several years, there has been an absolute eruption of growth in popular social media channels like Google+, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and many others. It's safe to say that the era of social media is just beginning, which means the need for social media in your business's online marketing repertoire will become much stronger over time. The entire globe has seen the impact of the growth and adoption of social media tactics, and the increasing statistics prove it.
Just to name a few...
Establishing a social media strategy is only the first step in the road to success.
Everyone has a unique position within their industry has different social media needs. No two social media campaigns will be the same, so a cookie cutter social media strategy might not work for you. You need a social media marketing partner that will work with you to develop a creative & unique social media strategy.
Having a strong social media strategy is a great start to implementing a social marketing campaign, but you can't stop there. You need to set goals, work hard to obtain those goals, and put in place a method of measuring your results.
Whether you are running a small, local business, or managing a huge, global corporation, the previously mentioned stats make it obvious that your customers are active online. They are interacting via social networks with their friends, co-workers, and brands in search for recommendations, information, and of course entertainment. If your business is not online to be a part of the conversation, you can bet that a competitor will be. In fact, if this is the case, your competitor will quite likely take away the customer at hand, along with anyone else that's listening.
There are a ton of opportunities for your business to add value, and even contribute to the entertainment, by making connections with your customers. By making that connection you help build those people's relationship's with your company and brand. Those relationships establish the foundation for what could become one of your best marketing weapons, customer advocacy. So much of the customer experience now lives on the Internet, social media enables brands to take part in a customer's online experience outside of the typical marketing channels.
Advocacy is not something that just falls into your lap or that you can purchase. It is earned over time through constant, positive engagement with your customers. It is gained through experiences that satisfy, and through the delivery of elite customer service. If you ever find yourself in a tough situation, your online advocates will help remind the rest of the web who they support.
Customer advocacy is the ultimate goal of social media marketing, and it is through customer advocacy that your efforts start to truly grow. It shows that your brand is doing such a great job that your customers brag about your company, sharing their experiences and opinions with their friends, colleagues, and other online connections. That is the best form of social media marketing, and the easiest because your customers are doing the work for you.
The transformation from a passive Internet to an interactive Internet has brought with it many changes affecting how people connect with one another, and also how businesses operate online. In this phase, it's fair to say that a web presence is critical to the success of your company. You can't get ahead of the competition if you're ignoring your customer's conversations on the web. Leverage this opportunity to get closer to your audience than ever before. This means reaching more people in a genuine and authentic way, drive more qualified traffic to your website, increase your brand authority, and engage with people who influence your customers' behavior, and acquire the data needed for analytical business decisions.
So, why does your business need social media? The better question is, why wouldn't your company use social media?