Whether you are an early adopter or a Luddite when it comes to technology, there is no escaping the fact that we’re living in a digital world.
A decade ago people’s attention was on, well, other people and enjoying experiences in real-time. Remember when you would go and see your favourite band and enjoy it authentically and not through the lens of your camera phone or by ‘going live’ on Facebook. Enjoying a meal in a restaurant didn’t involve taking a perfectly composed shot and choosing the best filter before sharing it on Instagram #brunchgoals!
Resistance is futile!
In 2018 people’s attentions have shifted online. Politics is played out on social media (controversially in some cases, hello Cambridge Analytica), tech moguls and bloggers are the new millionaires and celebrities are much more accessible and have a huge influence. Social media has democratised the online landscape and enabled individuals and business to reach massive audiences. The smartphone is the vehicle driving this change, and there is a well-known statistic that shows more people in the world now own a mobile phone than a toothbrush! *
With all this time being spent online, on average ‘135 minutes per day per individual in 2017, up from 126 daily minutes in the previous year’**what is about Social Media that captivates people to such an extent?
Don’t fear the unknown
In the era of ‘fake news’ and campaign rigging, to many social media might seem like a potential minefield, but with a considered strategy and measurable objectives, social media can offer your business a whole world of possibility, literally as there are no borders or restraints on geographic reach online.
For businesses that have been profitable for decades without the use of social media, it can be hard to understand the power it holds. This is especially true in traditional businesses like law or accounting. Now new businesses in these industries are ‘disrupting’ traditional business models and gaining a competitive advantage by offering ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) models and using platforms like Xero and QuickBooks. Consider what Netflix and streaming services did to Blockbusters trade, or what Amazon did to Toys R Us footfall. The reality is that a failure to adapt your business model as technology progresses means your business could be left behind. Social media is one area where these ‘disruptors’ are advertising to gain an advantage.
Whether you understand how crucial social media is for your business or not, this article should open your eyes to the possibilities that are out there.
In it to win it
Having a presence on social media is a huge deal when considering the strength of your brand (for some business their social media platforms add millions in value to their balance sheet). You’ve been there, you find a new company that sounds interesting and the first thing you do is go online to check out their Twitter or Instagram profile. If you find that they don’t have any online presence, it not only makes the company less credible, but it can even give the impression that the business is no longer around! According to the latest ‘Socialeconomics video by digital guru Eriq Qualman, 93% of buying decisions are influenced by social media’. Can you afford not to be on here!
Managing your reputation
It’s worth remembering that even if your business doesn’t have any social media accounts, your customers can still be talking about you online or leaving reviews without your knowledge. Claiming your business’s social media platforms increases your online intellectual property, acts as a barrier to entry and prevents imposters alluding to be you. Owning your social media pages (even ones you don’t use regularly, such as Google Plus) will also improve your business ranking in Search Engine Results pages. So, being on social media is not just good for SEO and your business profile, it’s also vital to managing your reputation.
Triple Bottom Line
Social is also a great way to show people the side of your business they wouldn’t usually see, like the personality of your staff, your values and ethos and any charities that your support. These are known as ‘emotional factors’ which consumers connect with and make your brand one that people remember. Individuals are more socially aware now and price is not the only factor when making a purchase decision. Organisations are now addressing this by using ‘Triple Bottom Line’ (TBL) to measure their performance in the key areas of social, environmental and financial. This broader perspective creates greater business value for their customers. Social media is a great way to communicate these messages.
Happy customers make loyal customers
Another benefit of your business being active on social media is building trust and loyalty. If a prospective customer sees you online regularly, engaging and responding to followers and sharing authentic reviews from sites such as Trust Pilot or Facebook, they will be far more likely to trust you. This engagement will also help brand recognition and recall. When someone sees your activity online regularly, it’s much more likely that when they need a product or services in the industry you’re in, you’ll be the first name to pop into their head. Then the challenge for your business is to exceed their expectations and move prospects along the ladder of loyalty to become customers and ultimately ambassadors for your business.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are especially great for customer service. They allow you to respond quickly and show your audience that you care to respond to your customers. Publicly acknowledging a complaint can have a positive PR effect – showing customers that you can be relied upon if things go wrong to rectify the situation. There are now a plethora of apps and intelligent chatbots that can also respond to requests instantaneously online such as Zendesk and Facebook messenger for business.
Winning at social
Perhaps the most exciting part of social media marketing is the potential it has on affecting your Triple Bottom Line. Not only is marketing on social free (unless you run paid ads), it’s also incredibly effective. With the correct knowledge, strategy and measurement social media can quite literally be a game changer in terms of how successful your business becomes.
Look out for our series of ‘Acing Social’ blog posts, which will cover strategy, reputation management and measurement in the forthcoming weeks.
*Source – Erik Qualman – Socialnomics 2015 and 2017 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWa8-43kE-Q)