You would have heard so many marketing experts telling everyone to use social media as part of their promotional marketing mix. The Internet is flooded with information on using Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. Numerous articles have been written on how using social media can help promote your brand image and how it can generate web traffic for your main business website.
Keep in mind that that social networking is a marketing tool and it is only effective when used properly to promote your business.
The key question for a business is “How is social media harnessed to generate real revenue and customers?” In today’s digitally connected society your customers regardless of their age, gender or economic status will be active on social networking sites.
Here are some of the latest usage statistics on social media use that will make a business take notice:
68% of small businesses will increase their social networking marketing efforts in the next year
56% of Twitter users say they use the micro blogging site for business or work related purposes
Over 40% of people have become ‘friends’ with or ‘like’ a brand/company on Facebook or MySpace
20% of tweets are about business products
46% of Facebook users say they would talk about or recommend a product on Facebook
44% of Twitter users have recommended a product
Social media played a major role in holiday shopping – 28% of shoppers say social media has influenced their purchases
On the Facebook site alone:
More than 400 million active users
50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
Average user has 130 friends
People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook
There are over 160 million pages, groups and events that people interact with
Average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
Average user creates 70 pieces of content each month
Males and females almost equally use social sites (47% vs. 53%)
61% of Facebook users are middle aged or older, with the average age being 37
18- to 24-year-olds don’t dominate any particular social networking site; they’re spread out all over
More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month
The participation of your business in social networking should be self-evident, however, many businesses will go on to set-up social media sites and make no effort to participate and engage in the groups that their potential customers use.
To be successful in using social networking your business must find out where your potential customers spend time on these sites so that you can engage with them where they prefer and not where you prefer or are comfortable with. Participation and engagement with their social networks will form a platform from which to build relationships with communities of interest. This in turn will provide a new customer acquisition channel using the share and like capabilities of the social networking world. This “sharing” is the equivalent of word of mouth in traditional marketing.
Here are the 7 Business Development Marketing Tips for using Social Media:
1. Go where your customers are and not where you are comfortable
To find your customers on social networking sites consider the following:
Conduct a survey among your customers or potential customers.
Analyse and monitor traffic on social sites to discover how and where customers are sharing information about your business and your competitors.
Review marketing research or statistical information on the usage and demographics of the different social media sites.
2. Engage and interact
Social-media engagement is a conversation and your participation in the social network groups and communities is core to building relationships. Your value as a participant is judged by the value that you provide to the community as a whole. You can achieve this by freely sharing relevant, interesting and useful information
3. Research your competitors’ activities
You need to gather competitive information that can help your efforts. Conduct a competitive analysis of your top five competitors’ use of social media for the following:
The social networking sites that they actively participate
The type of content they publish
The number and type of followers, fans and views
The products, programs or events promoted
4. Release offers and programs that are exclusive to your social networking channels
You must give importance to your social media with exclusive offers for these promotional channels. This will entice potential customers to share with their networks the offer that is not available from other marketing channels.
As an example, provide offer an exclusive offer for your social media channel, such as discount coupon or voucher.
5. Social media participation requires authenticity and transparency
The words “authenticity” and “transparency” are a bit overused today, however, these are cornerstones to be successful with social networking. Be a real human being in your interactions. This is the foundation to build trust and connections with real people on social media groups and networks.
6. Look for value opportunities in selling through social networking
Take the opportunity to leverage social media in selling your products and/or services by offering relevant items that are of value to your followers. Make it easy for them to make the purchase from these social media channels.
7. Always test and refine based on results generated
Social media programs as a marketing channel are not exempt from testing and refining your messages and offers. You must make the effort to test, gather results and analyse how it can be improved before launching the program to the entire channel.
By John Hester