If You’re Not on Social Media, Now’s The Time!
BY: LUCINDA WATROUS ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 08, 2016
Not too long ago, people were speculating about the longevity of the internet. That seems almost unthinkable now, but about twenty years ago there were people who were certain the internet was nothing more than a fad. It might be useful, interesting, and certainly novel but there was surely no long-term value to be seen.
Today, some people have the same attitude about social media. If you’re reading this, you already know how wrong the naysayers were about the future of the internet. Now, let’s examine why businesses who doubt the power and future of social media need to reconsider.
Social Media Isn’t a Fad
The Pew Research Center has been tracking the use of social media for about a decade. The results are clear no matter which demographic you look at social media use is steadily increasing. In fact, 76 percent of people using the internet have at least one social media site they use regularly. Many people think young adults are the only audience, but this is clearly not true. They do make up the largest percent of the market at about 90 percent, but seniors have tripled their use of social media in the last five years. As for children, they practically live online and social media is an integral component of their daily lives.
One of the clearest indicators of the important role social media will play going forward can be found in the iconic powerhouse that is Sesame Street. In addition to being bought by HBO, they are launching new programming on YouTube, specifically to reach the demographic of users who rely on social media heavily for their entertainment.
Why Social Media is Important
Social media is becoming one of the most powerful ways to connect with consumers in an increasingly digital world. According to one study, people are spending about 20 percent of their time online on Facebook. That may not sound impressive, but it’s just one of the many social media sites, and for people who spend hours online daily it can add up quickly.
In 2014 social media sites became the most powerful method of referring traffic to your website. This means that while search engines are still important, companies not on social media are losing potential customers every day. In part, this is because when a potential customer sees a post on a friend’s feed linking to a company they think of it as an endorsement.
As we all know, personal endorsements are far more valuable than any sort of advertisement could ever be. That’s why online customer reviews have become invaluable. This has amazing, and also terrifying, potential consequences. If your business is consistently making your visitors happy, online reviews are a golden opportunity for growth. But as new legislation indicates, some business have been hurt by negative reviews and want to stop the trend. This legislation also serves as a warning for those who have yet to take social media seriously. It is here to stay, and the impact is so real that state, federal, and international regulations continue to evolve at a rapid pace.
Making Social Media Work for Your Business
So what does all of this mean for your business? It means if you aren’t on any social media sites, or if you aren’t using them to their full potential, you need to start. Now.
First, it’s important that you have the social media basics down. You need to have a completed profile for any sites that you will be using, and they need to be consistent with your branding strategy. While your branding will be the same across platforms, there are important differences in the various social media sites. For example, you would post a picture filled blog post about how to do something on Pinterest and you would invite people to come learn in person on Meetup. Someone needs to be monitoring the account, so people who want to interact with your business don’t feel ignored. Finally, whoever is interacting on the account needs to use it consistently and be personable.
Back to branding for just a moment. You need to have a clearly formed brand image for your business before you tackle social media. This helps your company stand out from others in the same field, and helps facilitate engagement. People want to interact with others who feel authentic, this includes companies. You will need a memorable logo, a clear and consistent voice, a tagline that encapsulates the company image, and cohesive design elements. The one difference between traditional branding and branding for social media is, it needs to engage crowd cultures. It isn’t enough to have a static brand, you need a message and a niche that will draw people in.
In addition to making your content visible to consumers, social media is a phenomenal way to improve customer service. When customers feel their concerns are being addressed, they feel personally valued instead of feeling like nothing more than a dollar sign. When customer service is done right, it can also become a powerful marketing tool. The key to great customer service isn’t in doing what is expected, or even what will pacify the consumer. Companies need to go beyond expectations and show their customer base how much they are appreciated and valued.
Good customer service inevitably leads to good reviews. Good reviews can result in more traffic to your website and more sales for your company. It isn’t enough to provide an exceptional product, experience, or service anymore. You need people to share those positive experiences. One way to encourage people to engage with you is to integrate social media on your website. Place share buttons prominently, put up a live Twitter or Facebook feed, or encourage visitors to pin images to Pinterest.
The internet isn’t going anywhere, and neither is social media. Failing to make the leap into social media waters is simply slowing the growth of your business. Take the time to learn about the different platforms and choose a few that feel like a natural fit for your company. Then start building your social media following and authority.
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