Social Media is indispensable to the business world today. Customers connect with brands through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Businesses build brands and forge relationships with customers on social platforms. Social media is indeed a critical business tool, covering the entire gambit from building the brand to fostering growth and knowing the customer. A business that is absent on social platforms and abstains from direct communication with the audience risks falling behind the business curve.
Social Media for Brand Building
Social media is a strong platform for creating brand awareness and boosting customer outreach efforts, as nearly half of the population worldwide has a presence on social media. People not only connect with existing brands, but make new ‘brand’ discoveries on social media platforms. As a case in point, more than 50% of Instagram users have reportedly discovered new products on the platform. There is understandably a clamor among brands for buying Instagram followers. Social media can be a great aid for reputation management. Customers tend to share their experiences with brands on social media and companies that are on the ball can pick up such chatter to highlight their core strengths and address the negatives.
Customers, by nature, connect with the human dimension of a brand. Studies have demonstrated that people trust in brands that embrace time-tested values, care for stakeholders i.e. customers and employees, and remain true to their promises. Human connections can be established by introducing people to the employees and existing customers associated with the brand. Social Media establishes a brand as a thought leader, thus evoking trust and loyalty. Social Media promotes brand visibility and recall by providing an avenue to connect with others.
Social Media for Content Creation
Companies need smart and in-depth content to make an impression, establish expertise and grow their audience. Adobe, for example, makes use of LinkedIn Sponsored Content to showcase its way with infographics and videos. Going viral is a good strategy for content dissemination. People generally like, comment and share social posts. Going viral takes this higher by many notches as people share content with their networks, the networks do likewise and the content spreads across the internet in no time. Going viral would be next to impossible without social media, but is now within the realm of possibility.
Businesses source content on social media in two ways. Brands may simply ask people what they desire, engage in social listening and give them what they seek – this is a sure way to create content that will be read and shared by many. Alternatively, brands would design a contest or use a hashtag to source user-generated content. Social involvement can create excitement around a brand and build a library of social posts that can be shared over a period of time.
Social Media for Communication
Social media communication is a two-way street that allows brands to interact with customers and receive feedback from them. It is a known fact that a greater proportion of people follow brands, rather than celebrities, on social media. Estimates suggest that 2/3rd of the people on Instagram follow at least one business and this is likely to be the case with other social media platforms as well. Brands can engage with the customers and followers on social media by being always connected, remaining active and responding to comments and queries in an appropriate manner.
Social Media for Fostering Growth
Social media is a big boost for website traffic. Social media posts drive traffic to a website, while activities such as sharing blog and website content on social channels draws the readers into viewing a new post. Social chats are a great means of increasing online brand visibility.
Social media offers an immense potential for sales growth. It is an easy route for generating customer leads, with many social networks offering specially designed advertising formats for this purpose. For example, Renault Europe has made it possible for prospective customers to book a test drive directly on Facebook with just a few clicks. Social accounts are a critical part of the sales funnel that transforms a new contact into a life-long customer. Social networks are also crucial for ecommerce. Brands can receive a shot in the arm by partnering with influencers who enjoy a large following on social media.
Social Media for Knowing the Customer
Social media monitoring is an important element of audience engagement and a key source of intelligence about the marketplace. It is also a tool to gain valuable insights about customer behavior and expectations. Social media generates an immense amount of customer data in real time and this can be tapped to arrive at smart business decisions. Monitoring the social chatter would help in understanding customer feelings vis-à-vis the brand. It would also throw light on new developments and product launches on the part of the competitors.
Social Media for Advertising
Targeted advertising is an affordable means of promoting business and reaching the right audience, given the budgetary constraints and situational limitations. Demographics, geography and language can be factored into crafting messages that harness the convenience and capability of social media to reach out to the customers. And with ROI (return on investment) tracking and analytic tools, one can measure the impact of social media activities across the gambit from social engagement to purchases. In fact, Google Analytics tracks website traffic generated from social media, conversions and ROI for all social media campaigns.