Unless you live in a cave, you probably have some sort of social media account, like Instagram, Facebook, or even back in the day, maybe you had a MySpace page. Social media is an ever-present tool that has permeated our everyday lives—even if you try to avoid it altogether, there is probably some facet of social media that has touched your life. For businesses, social media marketing is crucial to success, now more than ever. With the changing purchasing habits of millennials and generation Z, social media shopping is quickly out-pacing the standard purchases made at brick and mortar stores.
Having social media accounts that are up to date is the first step to successfully using social media to market your business. Determining the types of social media that will best work for your company is of paramount importance; you don’t want to waste your time and efforts pouring resources into an effort that will not give you a satisfying return on investment, even if it is not monetary investment. While ‘social media’ is a broad term, it can be broken down into smaller segments. Not all types of social media are geared towards all business varieties, so it is important to use the few that will benefit you most to their maximum potential. Understanding each of the social media sites and their intended uses can help you put together an effective marketing plan.
One of the most popular of all social media are the social network websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, to name a few. These accounts are set up primarily as a communication tool for people to connect with one another, but for businesses, social network sites can be an excellent advertising tool. They promote brand awareness, relationship building and even lead generation, and are a great way for potential customers to learn more about your business, any special events you may be planning, or for giveaways or contests. How you can best use them is based on your business model and what you are looking to accomplish.
If your company’s advertising aim is to reach the younger generation, then social media sharing networks can be beneficial. Sites like Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube give people the opportunity to share photos, videos and other types of media with one another. Featuring your brand or company on these types of networks can gather you leagues of followers, and potential customers. Oftentimes, celebrities will endorse certain products on their personal social media sharing sites—for a hefty price. Depending upon which celebrity endorses the product and how many followers that person has can certainly get a business’s product or service a lot of attention, so the return on investment could be a good one, depending upon what you are trying to market and to whom.
There are social media sites that are used strictly to critique and review products and services, and these can be a double edged sword if not properly monitored. Consumer review networks like TripAdvisor and Yelp! can help a business amass new consumers—or they can be completely turned off by someone else’s review of your business or service. It is imperative that someone from your company monitors and responds to these sites, especially when there are bad reviews posted. It shows other consumers that you genuinely care and want to fix the situation and you are not discounting the review of the person who left the remarks in the first place. An attitude of constant improvement speaks volumes on review networks. Your online reputation demands it!
Many people turn to discussion networks to ask questions or share in-depth information regarding a variety of topics, which could include a service or business you offer. Anyone can chime in, which makes it a perfect forum if you are the expert on a particular subject and can offer your business’s expertise to assist with the query. Sites like Quora and Reddit invite users to ask everything from where to find a particular product to how to answer a file a specialized tax return. If you offer an accounting service, you could easily add your “two cents” and possibly interest others in your business, just by answering a question. You can also keep a pulse on what is trending, and by collecting market research from these sites, determine the best course for your business’s future.
Another way to compile interest in your business is to use your own website to its full potential. In addition to the advertising and media marketing you can do outside your own website, you can drive people to your own website by savvy SEO or search engine optimization marketing. While you cannot control the content that is written about your company’s product and service anywhere else on the net, you can govern the information on your own site. Starting an informative blog about your company or service can be a good way to teach people about what you have to offer. Changing content on a regular basis and including important keywords to help make your blog stand out from the rest can help to get you noticed. While this is not the fastest way to get your business noticed, it can be viewed as the most informative, since your company could be in a very niche market where people don’t even know what it is you do or offer! Getting creative content onto the internet via your own webpage also shows you are in touch with the current needs of your customers, as opposed to the blog that was updated last year with outdated information.
As you can see, social media marketing is a very viable source to gain new clients or customers, but it must be handled correctly. Knowing your customer and your brand will help you gauge which varieties of social media would benefit your company the most. Quick responses, informative content and endorsements and recommendations are all part of the social media equation and can help you standout in your business field. If you are not tech savvy, many companies offer services to assist you with your social media marketing venture.