In business today, it’s important to look at other ways to connect with your audience, your market, and to also hear what people are saying about you – this is one of the great things about using social media.
It is true that a business that adapts to the ever-changing environment around itself can only survive. So true in the case of social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and so on, which are the craze these days. Industry experts can reveal that social media is an important part of your business marketing and branding. There is no doubt that social media has become a strong medium for businesses around the globe to get their message to new customers and stay in touch with existing customers.
What is Social Media?
Social media is a phrase being tossed around a lot these days, but it can sometimes be difficult to answer the question of what is social media. The best way to define social media is to break it down. Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication. In Web 2.0 terms, this would be a website that doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information.
This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article, or it can be as complex as Flixster recommending movies to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests. Think of regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts on the matter. Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too.
Using Social Media as a Marketing Tool
Social media can be used as part of your overall marketing mix, in order to reap big rewards if you play your cards right. The best strategy is integrating your social media activities within your own website, increasing the ways in which you connect with your customers. Social media can include blogs, wikis, photo sharing sites, micro-blogging platforms, content sharing sites and much more.
Social media encompasses all online community hubs, from blogs, social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, audio and video podcasts and microblogging tools such as Twitter to online PR tracking tools which can become a window into the honest perception of a company’s brand. The old days of simply optimising your website for keywords are still important, but that alone won’t get you the results you need to be successful. If you want to explode your sales, you should use social media sites such as Facebook, Twiiter, Linkedin, Blogs, YouTube, Scribd, Slideshare, and so on.
Create a Social Media Strategy
First and foremost, you need to form a clear social media strategy for your company, in order to reap the benefits of using social media tools that are freely available online. Like a business plan helps keep your business on track, a social media strategy will guide you to using social media optimally. Social media tools today can be used to gain more customers, stay in touch with existing ones, build your business brand, increase sales, and so on.
There are many ways to use social media tools to your benefit. For instance, if you were planning on launching a new product, services or features, you could offer a sneak preview of those online, thus allowing your audience to build demand and providing critical feedback to help smooth the launch.
You could also use online multimedia sharing tools such as YouTube, Slideshare, Vimeo, and so on, to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.
Many companies today use social media tools to improve their online presence. Social media tools used today include blogs (Johnson & Johnson, Delta Air Lines); bookmarking/tagging (Adobe (adobe AIR), Kodak); brand monitoring (Dell, MINI); content aggregation (Alltop, EMC); crowdsourcing/voting (Oracle, Starbucks); discussion boards and forums (IBM, Mountain Dew); events and meetups (Molson, Pampers); online video (Eukanuba, Home Depot); social networks: applications, fan pages, groups, and personalities (British Airways, Saturn); and more.
Do’s and Don’ts
From Twitter to MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and beyond, social media is taking the world by storm. Using social media for business is also a hot new trend that you cannot afford to miss out on. You however, need to keep certain rules in mind, prior to jumping onto the social media bandwagon. Firstly, whatever you post on various social media websites should be future-oriented and tasteful so that it does not come back to haunt your business at a later time. Update the look of your social business networks on a regular basis. Use social media as an outlet to share information in other ways, including pictures, videos and music.
While users with large social business networks are appealing, focus on developing strong bonds with lesser-known users too. Social business networks look more professional if they possess uniformity and consistency across the board. Also, setting up social business networks isn’t enough to generate a surge in traffic for your organization. You will need to revisit and revise your strategies on a regular basis. Your social media personality becomes part of your brand’s legacy. Don’t brand your personality for the day, the month or the year. This is serious stuff. What you post stays around for a pretty long time and the information (good and bad) isn’t too hard to find.