In my Brand-Yourself post last week I spoke about the benefits of using Twitter for your business. This week I wanted to discuss why social media, as a whole, matters to your business.
Social media is the next tool for businesses to connect with their clients, customers and target audience. Other mediums (such as print, radio, television, website banner ads, in-video game ads, etc.) may still be pertinent to your business, however, social media is one avenue that cannot be ignored by *almost* everyone.
* NOTE: * there are some industries, such as the financial services industry, where connecting and sharing information online is regulated and not an advantageous method to connect with your audience.
Having said this, for most other businesses, social media makes complete sense to leverage and connect with your market. As many of you already know, social media is not a post-only service. Communicating, connecting and engaging your audience is incredibly important, moreso than what information a business has to convey.
Individuals are able to go pretty much anywhere on the Internet to learn about your business, your products & services and maybe even feedback on what other customers thought after working with you. Social media allows businesses to take engagement to the next level.
Notice I did not use the word “relationship”. I feel this is incredibly important to distinguish, as your consumers are not looking for a relationship. They are looking to engage with you to learn, ask questions, gain feedback and feel that they are purchasing from a customer service friendly company.
The more engagement that occurs, the better the perception (and hopefully the reality) that the business cares about its customers. If nothing else, social media allows for four major areas where companies must participate:
People want to see companies on social media. These people may not readily admit they are looking for a business but they are cognizant over who is and who isn’t there. This is crucial. Having a presence is important to share information and connect with your audience. This is also beyond the business web site, which adds a personal element to the equation.
Businesses are now able to listen to comments from the public in a very direct and real-time manner. Companies such as Radian6 provide in-depth measurement (ROI) tools for businesses to track many variables across the interwebs. This may also be done at minimal or no cost through a number of web sites and search engines. Understanding what the public perception is about your business allow that business to either respond or continue listening for future public relations strategy discussions.
By engaging its audience, a business may position itself firmly in a potential customers mind. If a person sees a message on a regular basis, it becomes a part of their day. The tricky part in this is that the business does not want to neither be an afterthought to a conversation nor “white noise” on the social media page. Content is just as important as cadence and consistency.
This is the businesses advantage. If a current customer or potential customer posts a question or comment, you are able to respond in a timely fashion. Because you are LISTENING to the conversations, you should be well in tune with what is transpiring and where you must engage and interject or where to just let conversations continue organically.
If a business is able to be active in all four of these aspects, regardless of what social media tool or tools are selected, then that business has positioned itself well to connect with its target market.
Selecting your social media strategy is important, but the actually implementation and ongoing work will make or break that strategy.
Photo credit to Tourism Industry Blog
Keith McIlvaine manages the recruiting social media strategy for a Fortune 500 company and is an avid networker. He is a corporate recruiter, social media advisor, coach, speaker, blogger and an all around fanatic. Connect with Keith on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or on his blog at the HR farmer. (The statements posted on this site are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer)