The use of social media is growing at an astronomical rate. With Facebook floating on the stock exchange at a mind boggling $104 billion, many naysayers predict a bubble. However, there is no denying the power of social media and the impact that it can have on the business of marketing.
"People want to do business with you because you help them get what they want. They don’t do business with you to help you get what you want.” – Don Crowther (@don_crowther)
Social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest represent a huge opportunity for businesses to grab the attention of customers while simultaneously building a brand image. There are plenty of tactics that businesses can employ to do this including the creation of brand profiles on social networks such as Facebook fan pages and creative advertising via branded podcasts and applications, also known as apps. According to Gainstagram.com, consistency is one of the keys to a successful social media campaign. The global impact of social media cannot be ignored!
Word of Mouth
Social media platforms provide the perfect opportunity to take advantage of word of mouth and to see it spread. Social media is growing at its fastest rate in developing countries. People are connected on a global scale and casually participate in each others lives through online observation. Something as simple as “Liking” a brand on Facebook can spread virally very quickly throughout the various social media channels. It is worth noting that individuals trust the opinions of their peers far more than a glossy magazine advert. Millions of people review products and services directly via social media sites using video through Youtube, which in many cases is then shared and disseminated via various other social media websites. As a consequence, the public increasingly look to social media to find reviews on various products and services to help them to make buying decisions. As a result, companies can and do provide products to popular Youtube users to review for their subscribers as well as create their own branded Youtube channels with branded videos about their products.
Communicating with Customers
Companies may see the spread of negative reviews about their products or services as a bad thing, when they can use it to their advantage. By utilizing social media effectively, companies can reach out to dissatisfied customers directly, within their own social media environment, to find innovative ways of improving the product or service they have on offer.
“Social media will help you build up loyalty of your current customers to the point that they will willingly, and for free, tell others about you.” – Bonnie Sainsbury (@bsainsbury)
When creating a social media marketing strategy, it is worth thinking very carefully about who is being targeted. There will be people within your social networks who may not necessarily be customers, but who nevertheless can have a massive impact on your marketing efforts. Forrester Analyst Augie Ray broke the various types of social media influencers into three distinct categories:
- Social Broadcasters (at the top)
- Mass Influencers (middle)
- Potential Influencers (bottom of the pyramid)
More than 80 per cent of that population is made up of “potential influencers”. It is worth making the effort to identify who these people are in your network and connect with them to attract shares and likes which ultimately help to spread your brand name. One website which is excellent for identifying these people is Klout. Klout gives social networkers a score out of 100 which indicates how influential an individual is over their network while also identifying who the broadcasters and influencers are within that network.
Social media has had and is continuing to have a huge influence on business, marketing and on how businesses engage with their target market. The use of social media to share and engage with others continues to grow at an astounding rate, so it would be wise for any business to develop and implement a sustainable social media strategy in order to successfully take advantage of this rapidly changing environment.