Digital Advantage: Social media, who cares?
I'm sure by now you are aware of social media, but why should you care? Does social media even help your business?
The answer is yes, you should care, and yes, it helps your business.
Let me tell you why and how.
Social media sites and the people on them are having real-time conversations about your business that define your brand and its standing in the marketplace, good or bad.
These conversations are happening whether you choose to participate or not. Those real-time conversations can be measured, harnessed and monitored to drive highly relevant conversations across several channels.
Your social media marketing should be more than just creating a Facebook page or Twitter page. You want a return on investment and to drive sales for your business. You need to focus your social media strategy on positive engagement and how that engagement drives people into your business to buy a service or product.
Social media is word of mouth on steroids. What used to take your customer base months to spread around town could be done in less than 10 minutes. Use this to your advantage. Manage your brand's identity online and take part in the conversation about your business, related services and community.
Social media is important for nearly all business categories but particularly those that are service oriented. For instance, if you're a new restaurant owner and customers who visit your restaurant enjoy or hate the experience, they're likely to post something to their social media profiles. Keep this in mind when providing customer service in the real world as well.
Even checking in at a new or existing location can raise awareness within a community.
Find ways to encourage check-ins and likes. Contests and specials promoted and shared on social media sites, especially Facebook and Twitter, can be highly effective when executed properly.
You can use social media for marketing and sales, but one of your primary focuses must be customer service. Listen to your customers and then provide quick resolutions to problems or questions. Respond quickly to customers' requests, complaints and compliments. Seventy-one percent of consumers receiving a quick brand response on social media would likely recommend that brand to others, compared to 19 percent of customers who received no response, according to NM Incite's 2012 State of Social Media Report.
Do you want your customer base to recommend your business? Join the conversation.
Jason Holmes is the general manager of Advocate Digital Media, a sister company to The Victoria Advocate that focuses on digital marketing. He welcomes questions and column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.