What social media can do for your business…
In the last five years, Twitter’s bird symbol and Facebook’s blue Tahoma logo have indelibly intertwined themselves into our cultural landscape. Social media still has many critics and detractors, but dismissing its relevance to modern society is the 21st century equivalent of post-war businessmen who declared adverts on the fledgling ITV channel to be a vulgar Americanism that would never catch on. Like it or not, social media has become an integral and essential component of daily life. It’s unquestionably here to stay.
It would be almost absurd to establish a new business nowadays without ensuring it has some form of social media presence. Our lives are lived online to such an extent that the Internet has become a portal through which many people research and decide almost everything. That includes where to direct their business, which makes a social media presence as important as stores are to retailers. A comprehensive survey last year by Social Media Examiner concluded that 89 per cent of marketers gained greater exposure for their businesses when using social media. The majority of respondents also declared that a three-year period of social media activity helped them to improve sales while saving money on other forms of marketing. In the words of that great philosopher Kevin Bacon, it’s a no-brainer.
Alongside the obvious merits of building an audience of loyal fans and useful industry contacts, social media is also increasingly valuable to those all-important search engine results. If you Google Coca-Cola, the first ten results will include links to the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts alongside its own website. Rather than having to manually contact people using slow and expensive methods like post or phone calls, social media status updates send instant messages to every fan and follower at no cost. That’s very handy for announcing sales promotions or promoting upcoming events, but it can also be used to manage a PR crisis or react in real-time to criticism. Effective resolution of a customer’s complaint will be seen by everyone following your business, which can be worth a hundred adverts or press releases in terms of enhancing brand awareness and demonstrating effective customer service.
Which social media channel?
Although each start-up enterprise will need subtly different social media tactics, it’s advisable to create Twitter and Facebook accounts in the first instance. People are increasingly relying on Twitter to contact companies in lieu of phone, or even email, communications, while corporate Facebook accounts have many virtues in terms of promoting products and services to a wide audience. Don’t overlook Google+, since profiles are linked to the search engine giant’s results. YouTube is great for product demonstrations or promotional videos (preferably with a splash of humour), and LinkedIn showcases a company’s professionalism among peers and rivals.
Aim to update each account as frequently as possible, and remember that an interesting story, or effective promotion, will spread like wildfire among the social media communities. Although the phrase “going viral” usually relates to news stories, it describes the phenomenon where something rapidly spreads across an interconnecting web of people and gains more momentum with every new like, retweet or share. It will eventually reach more people than any ad campaign or conventional marketing effort could ever hope to achieve. This is the power social media wields, and it’s why no business can live without it.
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