Social media in 2018 reminds me a lot of where the Internet was in 1996.
Back then, there were plenty of companies that believed they didn’t need to have a web presence. They were satisfied with their current status and had no interest in venturing into foreign territory.
Many of those companies ended up digging themselves into holes it took years to dig out of.
Today, there are just as many companies don’t believe in importance of social media in business. The common assumptions?
- Social media is for kids
- Social media serves no business purpose
- Social media marketing isn’t as effective as traditional marketing
Social media has grown exponentially in recent years and there is no sign that the growth is slowing down. As of the end of 2017, there were a combined 6.14 Billion social networkers on the top 15 social media sites. There are over 2B(January 18) users on Facebook alone!
Why is using social media important for business? It can:
- It can attach a “human face” to your company
- Social media encourages customers to engage in meaningful conversation
- It engages visitors by having them contribute content
- It provides immediate customer service
- A social media channel informs the public about new products and services… and special offerings
Putting a “human face” on your company
When people walk into your business, they are engaged with other human beings. When they enter your online business, social media can re-create that kind of “human” interaction.
One brand that does this exceptionally well is the Marriott hotel chain.
Marriott CEO Bill Marriott blogs regularly on a variety of topics. He talks about his travels, his customers, his employees. Readers actually feel as if they know him. This translates into greater brand loyalty… and more revenue.
Another way to put a human face on a company is through video using social media. YouTube has become the web’s No. 2 search engine.
Ford Motor Company CEO Bill Ford effectively communicates with the public through a series of videos. Some are about cars, some about Ford employees, and others about Ford’s community outreach programs. In all the communications, though, Ford comes off as a “regular guy” and not as some fat-cat CEO.
Engaging Customers in Meaningful Conversations Using Social Media
Businesses can’t afford to be arrogant. In the age of social media, businesses must be open to discussions with their customers. It is important to find out what they like, what they hate and what fresh ideas they may have.
Starbucks has taken this to heart with their “My Starbucks Idea” program. The program doesn’t just invite suggestions. It keeps a detailed list of visitor suggestions that were implemented by the company. This way, visitors can see that their voices are being heard.
Engage Visitors by Encouraging Them to Contribute Content
Another way of engaging the public is to have them contribute “content” to the social media site. A great example of this is Burberry, which created the “Art of the Trench” website to engage customers and potential customers.
The public is encouraged to take photographs of people wearing Burberry trench coats and then upload them onto the Burberry site. Visitors then can vote for their favorites and discuss which coats they like and which ones they don’t.
This kind of “stickiness”… content that keeps visitors on your site… results in greater customer loyalty…often translate into greater sales.
Provide Instantaneous Customer Service
One of the major benefits of social media for business is that it allows companies to instantaneously deal with customer service issues. This can be done directly, by offering clear channels for customers to register complaints, concerns, and suggestions. This can also be done proactively, by monitoring what people are saying about your brand online.
JetBlue Airways has been ahead of the curve in using social media- especially their Twitter account- to provide information and answers quickly. They advise of delays, weather issues, flight cancellations, etc. so that their customers know what to expect long before they arrive at their gates.
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) January 18, 2018
Provide Exclusive Offers and Discounts
You don’t have to be a huge company to use social media to attract customers, serve customers and increase sales.
Dell, an American Computer Company, provides information on new products and sales using social media. They also offer exclusive discounts to their online followers.
Check out how they use Twitter to make immediate sales:
Any business that ignores the 6.14 Billion social media users is a business that doesn’t deserve to succeed because these numbers are enough to show the importance of social media in business. Companies of all sizes can leverage social media to enhance their brands, attract new customers, serve current customers and to generate nearly instantaneous e-commerce. No matter what the size of your company or how long you’ve been in business, social media can be leveraged to enhance your bottom line.