Let’s face it, with all the mashed up buzzwords, consultants and vague lingo that could apply to your daily horoscopes flying around, it can be difficult to identify what social media can do for a business. Well, the answer to that is: what do you want it to do?
When we’ve had discussions with people about the uses of social media for business, there is one recurring problem; measuring results. We are at a stage now where many companies that have online operations are aware of social media. Yes, many companies we’ve come across are aware of the need to establish themselves on it; bookmarking icons have been placed and websites have become buzzword compliant. This is all well and good, but they haven’t asked themselves why they want to become involved.
Once companies clearly know why they want to incorporate social media into their strategies, quantifying gain becomes a much easier task. Let’s look at some of the reasons a company might use social media and how the approach is different:
Do not expect traffic from social networks to behave the same way as search engines. Users that visit your site organically through search engines are looking for you, or something that you have.
Users that visit your site from larger social networks can be compared to playing dice. Sure there are ways to engage some of these users, but depending on what services or products you offer, you should find that targeting smaller niche networks may increase your return of investment. Having 300 ultra targeted users with a credit card in their hand visit your website can lead to more conversions than 20,000 random users.
Increase traffic/Advertising Revenue
This is probably the easiest goal to obtain through social media. We won’t stay on this point very long as we have covered it in a previous post here. The key points in getting more traffic from social networks are:
- A Social media friendly website that looks good
- Target many social networks
- Make your headlines beg to be read
- Use of relevant images
- Give users what they want
- Limit annoying ads and popups(You may enjoy clicking your own ads by mistake, but others don’t)
You have the largest market research company at your finger tips. What better way is there to improve your products and services than to get feedback directly from your consumers? Although you will get feedback whatever you do on social networks, it can be difficult to filter out the noise and make a path for valuable insight.
Podcasts, vodcasts, company internal blogs and active forums are just a few good ways to open communication channels with your consumers. Be prepared to listen. Talking at your users alone will serve no purpose.
Increase Brand Exposure
It has often been said that users have to see your brand a minimum of 6 times if they were to buy anything from you. Although social media platforms are probably the quickest way to increase your brand exposure, it is important to know that bad news travels just as fast as good news.
When embracing a heavy social media campaign to increase brand exposure, you should be aware of the consequences of a bad campaign. They can backfire and require even more resources to repair. You should be looking at reputation management services to monitor the buzz around your brand and keep track any code red situations.
Build a loyal following
Companies can have fans too. All the buzzwords aside, social media is what communication has evolved to. Why do you think bands have such loyal followings? It’s because they show a little of themselves. Not everything you produce has to be a sales pitch. Off topic can work to your advantage. Internal blogs, online events and just responding to your users are some ways to really get people to know you. Nobody will follow you if they don’t know who you are.
Everyone is doing it
Wrong answer. Look, do not get social media confused with social networks such as Facebook or social news sites such as Digg. Social media is essentially a platform for communication. Whatever the technology, or means, communication is the outcome. Every company can benefit from communicating a valuable message.
Although many companies dabble in social media, a large percentage are simple wasting their time. You must know what you want to achieve from social media to form a good strategy to achieve it.
What other benefits do you think social media can have for companies?
Written by Nick Christensen
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