Why use Social Media for Business?
There’s enough material on this title for several books but I’ve tried to give a very high level view of this fascinating subject.
Here are 7 compelling reasons why your business should be engaged with Social Media.
- Because peer recommendations are the most powerful influencer in decision making.
- Because LinkedIn has over 80 million users worldwide and over 4 million in the UK alone, and offers a free business page with separate free listings and reviews for your individual products and services.
- Because 1 in 12 of the world’s population use Facebook and they offer a free business page available to over 500 million users?
- Because Twitter has become a must have business research tool.
- Because a blog post is indexed by the main search engines typically within 24-48 hours compared to a web site at 3-8 weeks, and people can interact with your blog.
- Because video is proven to be more influential than the written word and easier to digest.
- Because the better your prospects and customers know you the more they will trust you and therefore want to do business with you, as well as recommend you to others.
Here are the 7 most common reasons I hear why businesses aren’t using Social Media.
- We don’t think it’s relevant to our business.
- We don’t know where to start.
- We haven’t got the time or resources to use this marketing channel.
- Isn’t social media for teenagers and young people?
- We have a great web site, why do we need social media?
- Our customers don’t use social media.
- What happens if we get a lot of negative feedback from social media?
So let’s have quick look at the 7 reasons for not being involved in Social Media –
We don’t think it’s relevant to our business.
I find it hard to agree with this in any businesses I’ve encountered. Peer recommendations are the most powerful influencer for decisions in any business whether you sell penny widgets or offer high end services. The more positive feedback and testimonials that exist for your business and its services or products, the better your potential customers will feel about you. There is no point in having the best offerings if no one can find them. Even done half-heartedly social media will help drive search results to your web site and deliver you more business.
We don’t know where to start.
This is a valid point and extremely common feedback from my clients. Start by looking at the various options. For example a blog, forums, newsgroups, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Friendfeed, Plaxo and Stumbleupon. Consider the one’s that could offer you a good return on effort. I would always suggest you start with a blog as your foundation and perhaps announce your blog posts with Twitter and copy the posts (and backlinks) to for example your LinkedIn and Facebook pages. If you already have video content then YouTube is an obvious place to create your own channel, but make sure your videos are made search engine friendly with accurate tags and descriptions.
We haven’t got the time or resources to use this marketing channel!
I know how this feels, time is always an issue. Look at other areas you are investing time in and find the ones that are not generating results and consider moving some of those resources to Social Media. You should look at 30 minutes every day as being the minimum investment.
No matter how you look at it, social media marketing will require time. If you are going to do this yourself I would suggest you start with a blog and create 2 x 400-750 word posts a month and perhaps 2 shorter linking posts, such as “I found this article interesting….here’s why and here’s the link”.
Alternatively you can employ a professional copywriter to create original content on your behalf that’s industry based and will be interesting to your potential market. This isn’t as expensive as you might think, if you budget £60-£85 per article you should get good unique content.
Isn’t social media for teenagers and young people?
This is a misconception. Here are average user ages, these are changing constantly but these are a great guideline compiled in early 2010:
- Facebook – 26
- LinkedIn – 40
- Twitter – 31
- YouTube – 36
- Blogs – 38
As averages these give a useful indication that there are many people of all ages using these technologies, and none of them are so specifically age targeted as to be of no use to your business.
We have a great web site, why do we need social media?
A great web site is the most important foundation for your online marketing, and if you’ve already got one then fantastic, you are already ahead of the game. Getting potential customers to your site should now be your number one priority. To do this you have many tools in your armoury, the main ones are: Pay per Click advertising, Search Engine Optimisation strategies, email marketing and Social Media marketing. As social media is community based if one person loves what you do then they will tell others. This kind of viral growth can drive incredible levels of new business or enquiries to your company very quickly.
Our customers don’t use social media.
Are you sure? Ask them, you’ll be surprised. Consider your potential customers as well, you can’t easily ask them but the chances are they will be using some or all of the channels you’re considering.
What happens if we get a lot of negative feedback from social media?
Good question! But how do you know that’s not already the case? Monitoring the social media channels for your company, products or services to see whose talking about you are VERY important. If you know you have negative feedback you can address the problem. With social media you can engage directly with the person making the comments and take action to address their concerns or rectify their problem. Remember the BT ad “it’s good to talk!”, well they are right This could turn your client into your biggest fan and will have very positive effects on the feelings towards your business from their community. It also gives you strong pointers to areas your business is not doing well in, perhaps deliveries, customer services, returns policy, or a particular issue with one product or service. This offers you the ability to rectify the problem and improve your company. Where you can’t solve the problem you are at least aware this is an issue and can take other steps to stop further negative feedback. It’s all good!
Well that’s a 10,000 feet view of this great subject. I really hope it’s given you some food for thought and I wish you a very prosperous 2011 and hope Social Media becomes part of your marketing mix.
Alan Tomkins of WSI created this article. Alan is an online marketing expert and has been delivering results for his customers since 1995.
You can contact Alan via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him on 07860 659076. Alternatively join the discussion below.