Why businesses should use social media
Social media is more than just a fad, and for many companies, it is becoming a bigger, more integral part of their overall marketing mix. Social media presents numerous opportunities for businesses that might otherwise cost a company thousands (if not millions) of dollars in marketing and advertising spend. According to eMarketer, in 2010 social media spend for B2B industries is projected to increase 60 percent over last year. But, what does this have to do with you and why should your business use social media?
- The cost to enter and participate in the social space is minimal. Compared to other forms of marketing, such as print, broadcast and even online advertising, the cost to market your business and your brand in social media is relatively low. The greatest cost will be time spent and human resources, but your investment will go a long way (see other reasons below) – talk about cost effective marketing!
- You can boost corporate and executive thought leadership. Focus on sharing industry expertise, insight and knowledge so that people view you and your company as a resource first and foremost. This develops a company’s trustworthiness.
- Opportunities for providing customer service and feedback abound. Maintaining and improving client relations, and courting and conversing with potential customers create many opportunities to improve your company’s customer service reputation, and also allows for increased engagement with your stakeholders.
- You can dramatically increase traffic to your company website. Your presence on search engines will increase. For example, a Google search for “Marketwire” results in page-one ranking for our YouTube channel and Twitter account. This presence is an inevitable way of increasing traffic to your website.
- You can better manage and monitor your brand. In social media, everyone has a voice. If your customers are not talking about your brand, you don’t exist. Whether you choose to listen to the conversations about you and your company is up to you, but realize that people are indeed talking about you. Seize the opportunity. Positive comments should be rewarded with gratitude. Negative comments will happen on occasion and should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. You will be surprised how often a perceived negative comment was a simple misunderstanding, how enthusiastic folks in the social space become when they learn that companies are listening to them, and how eager they are to rectify adverse situations. If you don’t monitor what is being said about your brand on social media networks, you will miss these opportunities.
- Social media is a great place for (free!) competitive research. It is critical in business to know your competitive landscape. Social media allows you to easily monitor what your competitors are doing and what other people are saying about them. Did they recently redesign their website? Did they launch a new product? What do others think?
- You can generate leads and better develop your business. If your current and potential customers are online, you need to be there, too. Social media participation requires equal investments of time, strategy and patience, and generating leads through your social media efforts can be the ultimate payoff. But remember to be true to the spirit of social media and act honestly and transparently. Don’t use social networks as one-way marketing and advertising channels. Instead, talk to people and engage them and leads will begin to trickle into your sales funnel.
Here are a few different types of social media:
The original social media networks:
- Forums (i.e., message boards)
Specialized social media and growing exponentially:
- Microblogging (Twitter)
- Photo sharing (Flickr)
- Video sharing (YouTube)
- Social bookmarking (Digg)
- Wikis (Wikipedia)
- Podcasts (iTunes)
- Social communities (Facebook, MySpace)
No one really knows how social media will change in the coming weeks, months or years. One thing’s for sure: It’s not going to disappear. Rather, it’s going to grow, develop, morph into who-knows-what. Look at it this way: Better to start now, while social media’s realm is still relatively easy to grasp.