To a newcomer, social media can seem very confusing. There are lots of different platforms and they all work in slightly different ways. It can be intimidating to say something that you know could reach huge numbers of people – what if you get it wrong? In practice, however, it doesn’t take much practice to get the hang of it – especially if you’ve done the sensible thing and browsed for a while first. It really is worth the effort, because if you can get it right, your business could enjoy a considerable boost.
The cost of missing out on social media
Although it might seem trivial to some, social media has come to be an important cornerstone of contemporary business life. 70% of consumers expect a business to have a Facebook page and are likely to consider it unprofessional if it doesn’t. Many also expect to be able to follow and contact businesses on Twitter.
Using other social media platforms isn’t as essential but still matters if you want to be in contact with the particular social demographics that use them. Overall, social media plays an important role in making a business seem approachable and interested in its customers – and it can be a rich source of information that helps inform everything from product design and distribution to pricing and marketing campaigns.
Businesses that have benefited from social media
Effective social media strategies can make a difference to companies of all shapes and sizes. Vancouver backpack manufacturer Herschel Supply Co. was just a start-up when, it 2009, it began a focused international networking campaign based on tracking and connecting with keywords; this led to it boosting its positive brand awareness by 60%. Azmi Mikati, meanwhile, used social media to build the connections he needed to expand his M1 group into different countries and build up a consumer following in each, helping to make him a major player in the international telecommunications marketplace.
As in many areas of life, you can learn a lot about how to use social media effectively for your business by looking at cases where other people have got it wrong. They illustrate that most of what you need to do is use common sense and think before acting.
Consider HMV, for instance, which got in trouble earlier this year after firing a lot of staff who still had access to its Twitter account because it hadn’t changed the password, leading to some colorful tweets being made on its behalf. Then there’s DiGiorno’s mistake, making use of trending hashtag #WhyIStayed to advertise its pizzas – without first checking what it was about. Interrupting a serious discussion of domestic violence didn’t give them quite the publicity they’d hoped for.
A changing world
The global marketplace has undergone a seismic shift in the past decade and nothing is as it used to be. Consumers now expect to be able to take care of a high proportion of their shopping and interactions with businesses online. They expect to be able to contact businesses at any time, and they expect prompt responses.
Mastering social media is the key to keeping them happy.