Social media may not be the be all and end all of marketing these days but it is an integral part of the new marketing mix. While many small to medium businesses have been hesitant to start making use of this medium, once they have in fact experienced the benefits of social media in their businesses, it is unlikely that all business owners and CEO’s will really “get it”.
There are no other media that you can make use of in marketing that can give you a global reach with many unique visitors to your site without spending much more on traditional advertising and marketing.
Many businesses are starting to see the benefits of social media though, and here are a few key things that it can do for your business, straight from the real world of business:
The 12 Major Benefits Of Social Media
1. Increased awareness of the brand or organisation
2. Increased traffic to the company’s website
3. Greater positive perceptions of the brand
4. Ability to monitor conversations about the organisation
5. Ability to develop targeted marketing activities
6. Better understanding of customers perceptions of their brand
7. Improved insights about their target markets
8. Identification of positive and negative comments
9. Increase in new business
10. Identification of new product or service opportunities
11. Ability to measure the frequency of the discussion about the brand
12. Early warning of potential product or service issues
SOURCE The Harvard Business Review Analytics Services
This isn’t to say that there are no cons to using social media. As a business owner, it is incredibly important to take note of all the positives as well as the negatives of each marketing medium you make use of. The fact of the matter is that in ordinary word-of mouth marketing, a dissatisfied customer will tell on average about 10 people, however, with social media, he has the ability to tell 10 million people simultaneously.
The real challenge then is not to allow fear of the unknown to hold one back from the real benefits that social media can bring to your business. As with any dissatisfied customer, it is not in the complaint alone that the world sees, but in the company’s response to the complaint and how it is handled. This is why it is always best to address a public complaint publicly in a diplomatic way that will turn your dissatisfied customer as well as all the people who read the complaint and your response into happy and active brand ambassadors for your company.
In a recent study by Shareholic it was established that Pinterest actually drove more traffic to blogs in the month of February than Twitter did. This is an amazing fear as the relatively new social network only has an estimated 11.7 million active users compared to Twitter’s 100 million or so users.
Shareholic’s sharing widgets are used by more than 200,000 online publishers, most of which are independent bloggers who altogether reach about 270 million unique visitors every month.
February saw a little less 50% of all the traffic coming from Google, Facebook generating just over 6%, Yahoo (1.61%), StumbleUpon (1.29%), and Bing (1.21%). Pinterest came in at 1.05% and Twitter only at 0.82%.
In January, Pinterest fell into line just behind Twitter and so it is clear that Pinterest is definitely growing in popularity. The biggest beneficiaries of the growth seen in the new social network have been women’s lifestyle, home décor and cooking magazines amongst others.
Would your brand or company benefit from being on Pinterest? If so, it would serve well to make sure you are on this new social network.
If you are running a business, a website is essential in order to increase sales and build stronger relationships with your customers. When designing websites, however, many business owners run into problems as many business owners take the idea of a brochure and try to put it online. The fact is that a website is not just an online business card and brochure about your business. The result is that these companies end up having websites that do not engage their target market and have no quality traffic coming to their website either.
There are some important must haves for your business website that can help to build engagement and let you reach your target market with your website:
1. Database of subscribers
Implement a signup form to a newsletter from your website so that your customers’ names, addresses, emails and other details can get registered. You will soon build a database for your business which you can use for other marketing campaigns down the line.
2. Use an Enquiry Form
Encourage questions from your customers on your website and make sure that your company contact details are clearly specified on your website. Try to include as many ways to contact your company as possible so that your customers have their choice of ways in which to contact you.
3. Make use of Testimonials
Use testimonials from existing clients in order to engage your customers, build up trust and win customer loyalty. When people see that others have had a positive experience with your company, they are more inclined to use your company for the products, ranges or services that your company offers.
4. Use a standalone page for products/services
If you can use a standalone page for your products/services, this will mean each product can be featured with its details and special features. You can use images, model numbers and descriptions in order to promote each product. If you have implemented search engine optimisation in your images and your text correctly, you will drive more traffic to your website.
5. Blogging regularly
People enjoy reading content that offers information and answers to questions they may have. You will be able to include articles that are related to your business which will capture the attention of your target market while also keeping search engines happy with the fresh and unique content you are creating on a regular and consistent basis.
All the above can help you to make an otherwise boring website into a more interactive tool you can use to engage with your customers.
We have officially entered 2012 and as many of my Facebook friends are posting away what their New Years’ resolutions are, I feel compelled to at least make a list of things I may not achieve. Granted, my list is purely on the business side as a new small business owner trying to get my little company off the ground. So, here are my 2012 New Year’s resolutions:
1) Use email as more than just another communication medium
Email can get a bit overwhelming at times and I tend to check it at least every 15 minutes but I don’t think I am using it nearly enough to market my business. Email marketing can be an integral part of a business’ success so while I use it effectively as a communication medium, I want to be more proactive this year and send out marketing messages to my target market this year – all to legitimate subscribers, of course as I wouldn’t want to spam anybody. Nobody likes a spammer.
2) Make at least one business lead per day
When everything is online and you spend 7-8 straight hours communicating with people all over the world, you may be pushed into the misconception that you are working … when all you are really doing is networking with people who may never become solid business leads. I resolve to make one legitimate business lead a day. Whether that means phoning possible business leads, or being a little pushy when I meet new people about whether they may require my services, so be it. While not everybody likes that person who pushes their business at social engagements, the fact is if you don’t ask, you don’t get an answer. You may just meet a very important business connection at a social gathering.
3) Double My Twitter/Facebook Audience
While some people may think that the number of Twitter/Facebook followers you have doesn’t matter and it’s all about the quality, in fact, I think I may have said that on occasion, social media really is all about 1) networking and 2) getting traffic leads. So, if you communicate with people and you’re trying to get your message spread across your industry, why wouldn’t you want to have the largest audience possible? I have plenty followers who are not necessarily in my home country and so may never develop into legitimate business leads. Perhaps they just like my articles and enjoy hearing what I have to say about social media and implementing it as a marketing method in their marketing mix. But I would like more people in my home country to be aware of my business and even more international people to read my articles. I guess the main thing I am going to have to do in order to accomplish this is just to be consistent with what I have been doing as I can’t very well control how many people follow me on Twitter or Facebook at the end of the day and buying followers isn’t something I would recommend to anybody. But nevertheless, this forces me to be consistent with my article writing etc.
4) Revamp my website
I guess this is par for the course of being a web developer. As you develop more and more sites, you look at other websites and when you look at yours you start to realise that what you did 6 months to a year ago is stale and really does need a revamp. I want something cleaner, with bolder headings and more colour. I can’t very well sell web design when I am not happy with my own website – but as said before, this is probably just because as you go along, you develop bigger and better websites and since you are so busy with other websites, as a one-man-show, you don’t get to put the attention you may want to into your own.
5) Complete my Facebook Timeline profile
I love the look of the new Facebook Timeline but I must admit I find myself so busy with responding to messages, and the general everyday stuff, that I haven’t had the chance to update all my info on Facebook. I haven’t even found that profile header that will really express who I really am yet. But I will make sure I get this done in 2012. Otherwise it looks as though I have just dropped into Facebook one day and that’s just weird.
So, these are my resolutions, and hopefully, by next year, I will have accomplished them all. In reality, I hope to have accomplished at least 2 of these by the end of the first half of the year, but that is me being over-zealous and optimistic as I tend to be when it concerns business. Have a great one, peeps, and I hope all your New Year hopes and dreams for your businesses come to pass!
It isn’t only about making sure your social media content is informative and engaging, you also have to make it easy to share. Over half of Facebook users who have liked a company page later decide they no longer want to see posts from that company. Are you doing everything you possibly can to keep your users reading relevant posts, but also everything you can to encourage them to share your content?
Here are some methods you can implement in order to develop a sharing community within your network:
1. Make sharing easy
While some may not like the look of social sharing buttons on business websites, it increases the likelihood of your content being shared by others. When you make it difficult by not having these buttons in place, chances are no one is going to copy and paste your link just because you article is interesting.
2. Keep it relevant
Segment your followers and determine who your current followers are, what they like to share and in what format they prefer to share socially. For instance, with Google+ Circles you can share with specific circles and create a customised message for specific circles.
3. Don’t limit yourself
While social media is primarily a marketing tool in order to drive traffic to your website, consider using it for other resources as well such as recruiting new employees or encouraging employees to work as a team.
4. Create lists
People seem to love lists. Make interesting lists based on your followers and their interests. They are a great way to segment your followers and recognise a certain number of them as experts in their field.
Making the effort to do some of the above means you get an engaged audience which is easier to reach as they are segmented. You now have a ‘smaller’ network to reach per topic and you can concentrate on engaging these users further. Since you are targeting these users specifically, you will get more shares within your network and gain exposure to their networks too.
Look at you current plan and think about the following:
Is your information easily shared?
Would you want to re-share your information?
What do you want your users to do with your content?