In order to create a viable social media presence for your business, you need to understand what the various platforms available can offer you, and what you can expect to achieve by leveraging these opportunities. Too many business owners seem to be of the opinion that social networks are a golden ticket – that these “free” platforms are the solution to every business challenge.
This is simply not the case. A thorough understanding of each platform can certainly help you to reach certain goals, but it must be understood that when it comes to social media, you are building empires on property that you do not own – and caution must be taken.
What is social media?
“Social media allows us to behave in ways that we are hardwired for in the first place – as humans. We can get frank recommendations from other humans instead of from faceless companies.” ― Francois Gossieaux
As the name, so often forgotten, would suggest, social networks are integrated societies and communities based in the digital space. They exist primarily as vehicles for people to share their experiences, thoughts and conversations globally, and almost instantly. They are ways for modern people to leverage their connections, with the goal of interaction.
Businesses that succeed in the social space understand that great social content does not rely on product pushes or special offers, but rather, on providing a humanised face for frank discussion between brand and consumer.
Successfully social networking, from a business perspective involves 3 pillars – honesty, accessibility, and consumer-centricity. Exploring each one will provide a stepping stone in understanding, before we examine the best way to use social media to maximise your brand.
“Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.” ― Brian Solis
The social space is an open forum, which means that all of your posts, and your overall performance as a business, will be found out and attacked, or praised. The unified consumers have found their voice, meaning that they can engage, react and argue as one force. Word-of-mouth marketing has been given a digital edge, which means greater reach and speed. As with any human interaction, honesty will get you further than deception.
As David Chiles said, “You are what you post”. Be sure that you are transparent, and your business’s reputation will flourish.
Your clients and customers expect to have personal, direct access to your business 24 hours a day.
In order to give them what they want, you need to have systems in place that empower your business to react to queries as quickly as possible. These systems will depend on your budget and man power, as well as the platforms that you are using. While networks like Pinterest and Facebook do not often engender the kind of commentary that requires instantaneous responses, networks like Twitter, which have developed into query and complaint avenues, may need permanent staff.
Apart from honesty and personal access to your brand, the modern, connected consumer wants to feel like they are at the centre of their brand’s world. As Michael Radigan writes in his article “Why Consumer Centricity is More Than a Marketing Trend”: “Customer centricity means focusing on the customer, both in terms of the value you offer, but also in terms of the long-term value that the customer will provide in return.”
Whether you are writing content that adds value to their lives, or designing apps that must be convenient to use with one thumb, placing your customer first is imperative in the social space. Investing your time and effort to make sure your brand and content is valuable to the customers will pay off as customers spread the word about the quality of your work, and come back to make return purchases.
Now that we have established what social media is, and the overall goal of social interactions, let’s look at 5 ways that these networks can enhance your brand.
5 Ways That Social Media Can Enhance Your Brand
Based on the above, here are 5 ways that social media can enhance your brand:
Enhance customer relationships. Social media gives you unparalleled access to your customer base, giving you an opportunity to show that you have their concerns at heart.
Enhance your marketing campaigns. Thanks to the advanced analytics and reporting opportunities that social media gives you, you can rate the performance of campaigns, get feedback, and adjust accordingly.
Enhance your bottom line. Although social media marketing is set to cost you more as networks grow, when effectively used, you can reach a broader audience and create new sales opportunities. There are also opportunities in e-commerce.
Enhance your reputation. Great work gets spread quickly across social networks. From CSI to quality service, your reputation will grow as your network does.
Enhance your online presence. By remaining active on social networks, potential customers will have more touch points from which they can experience your offerings.
In closing, it must be stated that while social networking can be advantageous (when correctly used), it is a shifting space, and you as a business do not have any substantial voice when it comes to the future of each channel. Use social media to interact with your customers and improve what you give them, but do not fall into the trap of social media reliance.