Is Social Media Right for Your Business?
Social media use is experiencing a sharp upward trend in popularity, but is it right for your company or clients? This month we will explore the factors businesses should consider when making the decision to engage in this dynamic marketing medium.
Most companies today have an online presence. To interact with their customers, some simply send a monthly or quarterly eblast with information, while others actively engage via Facebook, Twitter, blogs, frequent eblasts and constant website updates. Is it information overload or simply what consumers have come to expect?
Consider these statistics:
- More than 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old
- 96% of Millennials (ages 12 to 32) have joined a social network
- 93% of social media users believe an organization should use social media
- 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands are linked to company-generated content
- 78% trust the recommendations of other consumers vs. 14% who trust advertisements
These statistics beg the question “Is social media right for my business?”
It’s highly likely that your customers and competitors are already engaged in using social media. Getting left out of the conversation could be a costly oversight. However, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution as all social media tools are not appropriate for every company.
One of the many wonders and challenges of employing this tool for business is exploring the diverse options and creating a strategic plan to integrate this powerful marketing medium into your existing communication arsenal.
Wikipedia defines social media as the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. Information is circulated on a constant, real-time basis, providing greater insight into brand loyalty, sentiments, feedback and mentions.
The list of tools under the social media umbrella is lengthy and still growing:
- Blogs (i.e. WordPress) – combine text, links to outside images and sources
- Micro-blogs (i.e. Twitter) – briefly combine text and outside links
- Networks (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn) – host threaded discussions on particular topics
- Forums – build online communities of participants who share interests
- Online games (i.e. Farmville) – bring together conversations, community, groups, events and advertising, and stimulate conversation and community through play
- Wikis (www.wikipedia.org) – allow anyone to contribute or edit content
- Media Sharing (i.e. Tumblr, Instagram) – allows users to upload and share multimedia content including photos, videos, music and artwork
- Social Tags (i.e. Delicious, Digg) – manages compiled information and can help drive traffic to your page
- GeoSocial Networks (i.e. Foursquare, Gowalla) – integrate GPS, digital cameras and mobile phones into social networking and allows users to interact relative to location and time
Consider the following before you plunge in:
- What is your message? Do you have timely, regular and interactive content to share with your audience or are you using social med as a broadcast channel to disseminate your message?
- Determine your company voice. It is vital to establish who is empowered to speak on behalf of the company.
- Listen and respond. Be responsible for answering inquiries or complaints in a timely fashion. The key to social media is the give and take of information. if you do not have the resources (i.e. staff time or budget for an external consultant) to maintain your company dialogue, engaging in social media inconsistently could be damaging to your brand.
- Set your measurable goals. How will you define success? Increased traffic to your site, the number of ‘likes’ on your company Facebook page, the number of Twitter followers, etc.? The key is to focus on quality of engagement over numbers.
Social media should be approached as any other traditional marketing campaign, as it is a highly influential medium and requires the same strategic planning to be effective. Set your strategy and let that lead you to the appropriate platform.