Today, “Open for Business” doesn’t just mean having a storefront or even a web page. It means being constantly connected to your customers – and the world – using the power of social media. Read on for 10 “truths” about social media’s impact to your business, and how you can start reaping the benefits now.
Truth #1: Quality over quantity
Social sites today are often crowded with random posts, pictures, polls and marketing messages. With a lightning-fast swipe of a finger, users identify what’s important and what’s not – often within seconds. So if you’re an offender of posting quantity over quality to your audience’s newsfeeds, chances are they’ll tune out your message and your brand altogether.
Your reputation online is just as important as the one you maintain in “real life.” In social media, content defines your brand, so that means that everything you post, even things you comment on or share, should be meaningful, engaging or exciting for your audience. Before posting, always stop and ask yourself, “What’s in it for my audience?” If there’s no benefit or share-worthiness, refrain from publishing.
Remember, once you’re “unfriended” or “unfollowed,” the likelihood of your audience ever returning is slim to none. Keep your content thoughtful and high-quality. Always.
Truth #2: Timing matters.
If you stop and think about it, being part of a connected world that’s open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week is pretty remarkable. Day or night, social media offers endless opportunities to speak with your audience – whether they’re doing their morning yoga or are on their way to a late dinner. Using valuable tools like HootSuite allow you to schedule posts on different platforms based on the engagement patterns of your followers – so you can maximize your reach and visibility when your audience is the most active and receptive.
You can also shape your posts around time-sensitive trends, holidays, sales, events and product releases. The key is to stay relevant, interesting and, most importantly, non-invasive.
Truth #3: Be inherently social in all that you do.
Print ads, brochures and even websites tend to be single-ended communications materials, meaning one person usually is doing all the talking – you. With social media, you invite your customers, friends and colleagues to join the party while integrating your content across multiple platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, GooglePlus, Pinterest, Instagram and others. Be sure to add social media handles to all relevant communications pieces to ensure that your message is being reached – and shared – across a variety of audiences.
Truth #4: Social media humanizes your brand.
Your social media channel serves as your brand’s voice and can become an engaging hub for quality conversation between your customers and your company. With its instant feedback capabilities, you can ask for opinions, preferences and more, giving you valuable data faster than ever imaginable to help your business grow and succeed. Many brands’ social media pages are also becoming customer service centers, giving companies an opportunity to virtually offer “service with a smile” and solve problems openly and proactively for all to see and acknowledge. That said, it’s important to respond to your customers’ comments in a consistent brand voice and within a timely manner – whether feedback is positive or negative – to keep your company in the best light possible.
Truth #5: Social media is here to stay.
Online trends may come and go, but by now, it’s clear that social media is not a dot-bomb fad. In fact, Boston Consulting predicts that the social media world will be worth a whopping $4.2 trillion by 2016. To top that off, a recent survey conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review showed that 60% of its respondents reported a growing reliance on social media in B2B relationships. Staggering statistics don’t lie – social media is inescapable.
Truth #6: It’s complicated.
Social media might seem easy-peasy to handle in-house, but when it comes to managing and maintaining your corporate image online, it’s more complicated than you may realize. More platforms are being developed every day, all of which offer different features that are important to master – that is, before those features change and need re-mastery all over again! And nothing is more important than staying on top of your channels’ analytics – the reason for your firm being there in the first place. Many firms outsource their social media efforts for a more streamlined, productive approach to managing the process.
Truth #7: Social media brings value.
Granted, your social media presence doesn’t replace great customer service, traditional marketing or standout products and services. What it does for your company is enhance these areas by serving as an additional means for quality, two-way communication. Most importantly, social media helps build your presence and establish global relationships that you may have never had access to before.
Truth #8: It’s cost-effective.
Social media gives you the ability to generate leads for 1/3 the cost of a traditional campaign and helps build brand awareness even when you don’t have a budget. That said, time is your biggest investment, as well as the commitment to managing and maintaining your social presence.
Truth #9: You can measure its effectiveness.
When it comes to tracking campaigns and analyzing efforts, nothing is more accountable than digital marketing – especially social media. Through real-time analytics, you can measure reach, engagement and even consumer sentiment using a variety of tools at your fingertips. The data you can capture – when analyzed properly – can tell a much bigger story than just campaign performance. Specifically, it can prepare you to respond to problems that may affect your reputation, provide valuable marketing intelligence to guide strategic business moves, and, perhaps most importantly, help you stay steps ahead of the game – and your competition.
Truth #10: The possibilities are endless.
There’s no denying that social media has an enormous influence on businesses today and continues to grow at extraordinary rates. Constantly engaged, your customers spend more time on social media networks than any other website, leading many companies to place a higher priority on their social presence versus proprietary websites. Social media gives you the opportunity to connect with your clients and have meaningful conversations that address their needs, insights and expectations, all while boosting brand awareness and credibility for your company. HR departments are even harnessing the power of social media for new employee recruitment. The possibilities are quite literally endless – all you need is commitment, time, and, most importantly, an open mind.