Social media pays a pivotal role in our daily lives. Facebook
has more than 150 million users, Twitter
, a relative newcomer to social media, has exceeded10 million users, and it seems as though everyone has a blog.
Tapping into this goldmine of existing and potential consumers is the goal of many companies. A social media strategy has become a vital part of achieving a company’s marketing goals. Whether used to create a buzz about the company, launch a new product, or incite customer loyalty and feedback, social media is an effective tool to connect a business to its consumers.
WHY YOU NEED SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media creates a level playing field for companies large and small to market their brand, product, or service to the masses. It allows the company to recruit new customers while breeding loyalty among existing customers. Used as part of a comprehensive marketing campaign, social media helps drive traffic to the company’s campaign website and incites a desire to buy the product.
Social media not only makes people aware of the company or brand, it also allows the business to protect their reputation by tracking what is said about the company or product. In the face of negative comments and feedback, a company can do damage control earlier and connect with the public directly to renew confidence in the product or brand.
SOCIAL MEDIA & YOUR BUSINESS
Though social media is often the responsibility of the marketing department, it is important that all departments from executives to IT are on-board with the social marketing strategy to help ensure its efficacy. For many businesses, the easiest medium to break into is a company blog, in which the president, CEO, or other designated employee posts brief articles pertaining to the company or thoughts of general interest to the consumer.
“How well someone is deploying social media depends on the niche they are in,” says Kevin Palmer, Owner and Chief Strategist for Boston-based Social Media Answers
. “Companies need to look within their industry and evaluate who the leaders are and why they are successful. If nobody in their industry is a leader, it is ripe for them to develop a strategy and become the thought leader within their industry.”
The best example of social media permeating all levels of the company is the use of Twitter by the online shoe and apparel retailer Zappos
. Not only does CEO Tony Hsieh tweet regularly, his employees also post messages on their individual Twitter feeds, sharing what they are doing and what interests them on zappos.com and beyond. The employee Twitter feeds are linked to the Zappos website so anyone on the site can read what’s going on at the company. Zappos tracks who is talking about the company on Twitter and posts these links to their website as well. As a result, the consumer feels a connection to the company which may lead to increased sales.
While some companies may only update their status to announce a new product, promotion, or event, companies that are most successful with social media maintain relevance by posting on a regular basis. Content is still king and it is imperative to use the status update to your advantage.
is one company that has mastered the art of updating the company’s status with relevant content. Though Starbucks is ubiquitous in every town, they take advantage of their social media as a smaller company would. The Starbucks Facebook fan page announces more than new products. They post videos, music and book reviews, articles about their employees, and encourage fan participation with fun polls and surveys. As a result, Starbucks remains on the radar of their tech-embracing consumers by updating their status and posting new content every few days. The level of engagement they have with their Facebook fans results in an active, and loyal, consumer base willing to provide feedback and promote the company to their online social groups.
In the changing world of the internet, nothing is immediate, including results. Companies should have realistic expectations. “Take time and do research before you dive in,” says Palmer, “Listen to what people are saying within your industry, about your product, and figure out where your target audience is and how they are using social media.”
Though tales of instant social media buzz do occur, much like sightings of Sasquatch, it may take a few weeks or months to generate enough buzz to increase sales. This is especially true for small to medium sized companies who may not have the brand recognition that large, established companies have.