Social Media is a blanket term used to cover a whole range of websites which allow interaction and networking and has become synonymous with services such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and forums. Many of these sites a great range of services with an enjoyable user experience, useful features as well as entertainment and are therefore used by millions of people on a daily basis. This provides a variety of opportunities for a business engaging in social media and should be a vital component of internet marketing strategy.
Being able to interact instantly with end clients in such an easy manner can help tailor and focus any marketing campaign directly in fast-changing markets, and it is also a great place to secure feedback and customer insights via a popular friendly interface. This is a great source of primary market research. And customers like to know that companies are listening and care about their opinions.
Two of the main platforms (Facebook and Twitter) are extremely popular – Facebook revealed in 2010 that is has over five hundred million users – which roughly equates to one in every thirteen people on the planet! Both of these services have the ability to be used on Smart Phones, meaning that users are connected most of the time and therefore as a company present on these networks, you have the potential to connect with hundreds of millions of users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The use of more professional services such as LinkedIn has led to another hierarchy of needs, attitudes and information that can be accessed. The easy, user-friendly way and valuable networking facilities provided by LinkedIn to professionals have meant that for B2B and in particular the recruitment industry, the site has become a key asset and tool and consistently provides ROI for many recruiters who use it regularly to perform their jobs. The service allows people to network with each other, reach out to former colleagues and seek out opportunities for work or project assistance, making it ideal for busy professionals. It can also serve as a great platform for publishing a CV for those seeking job opportunities.
For restaurants, there is Foursquare – a geolocation service which is designed to assist venues with making the most of footfall and users to get the best deals and promotions and discover new places. Foursquare offers you the chance to run a small page, offer loyalty awards and encourage people to visit and ‘check in’ to your virtual branch via their GPS enabled smartphone, enabling you to target people in a specific catchment area. Any local promotions in the surrounding area are immediately visible and highlighted to the checked-in user, which is great for restaurants, bars and other stores that want to encourage some repeat business such as hair salons, who may wish to put a special offer out on a particularly quiet afternoon to those in the area.
Forums are a great way of fostering an interactive relationship with the end user, offering them after-care support – helping to solve any problems that may arise, or simply conversing with customers and building a rapport that will help make your brand number one in their mind. Sponsoring these forums will also help improve brand visibility, and will also provide some positive publicity. Forums are also an invaluable source of free focus groups. Forums can be used to collect quality feedback from good clients, as well as a way to address a dissatisfied customer, providing an open forum and opportunity to turn around their experience to a positive one.
Above all – the use of Social Media should not be used as a platform for endless and blatant self-promotion. Make sure that any content is relevant, useful and unbiased, otherwise, people will quickly tire of reading what you have to say as a company.
Social media is an ultimately an engaging platform through which as a business or professional, you can showcase an in-depth understanding of your clients’ needs whilst simultaneously presenting a more human and social side to your brand, company or service.