Last month, we looked at marketing in general, including;* Defining what marketing is
* Looking at the difference between marketing and selling
* Identifying the four ways to grow a business
* Discussed business growth strategies
* Listed many of the tools of marketing
* The importance of having an on line presence in some form
This month, we are going to have a closer look at social media, which in Part 1 last month, we identified as only one of the many tools of marketing.
Many business owners see social media as just that - something to be social with between friends. However, it is much more than that. It can be a great way of connecting with your customers, both existing and potential, and, as part of your marketing strategy, be a key factor in growing your business.
What is Social Media?
A definition that I have come across states that "social media is media designed to be spread through social interaction, created using easily accessible and scalable publishing techniques".
Social media is a way of thinking - it's not about sales, or ads, or click through rates. It's about pursuing relationships and building communities of consumers. It's about rethinking how you make plans when your customers are in the centre and in control.
As stated earlier, there are many tools of marketing - so why social media?
According to Chris Anderson who authors the 'Long Tail" Blog, "we're entering an era of radical change for marketers.
Faith in advertising and the institutions that pay for it is waning, while faith in individuals is on the rise.Peers trust peers".
More specifically, consider these statistics:
* 84% of consumers value recommendations from friends and family above all other forms
* A consumer is 3 times more likely to trust peer opinions over an advertisement for a purchasing decision
* One word of mouth recommendation has the impact of 100 television ads
The Difference Between Traditional Media and Social Media
In traditional media, the message is pushed out - it is only goes one way with no interaction with the market. With social media, there is two way interaction between your business and your customers. The following diagram illustrates the new relationship that social media brings to your marketing efforts:
To put it another way - traditional marketing BUYS coverage. Social media EARNS coverage.
Social media represents a move from "How can we SELL to you to how we can HELP you.
Social media provides you with an opportunity to tune in to your customers and learn what they think of a product or service - much more powerful than handing out surveys. And as we all know as we fill out those surveys that generally nothing will come of any feedback that is given. With social media, you have an opportunity to deal with feedback, both positive and negative. And feedback will come, whether you solicit it or not!
The following diagrams show the scalability of social media and why it is so powerful:
One Message before Social Media
One Message After Social Media
Social Media is Refining Virtually Everything We Do
Including, but not limited to:
|* How we work |
* How we play
* How we learn
* How we discover
* How we complain
* How we celebrate
|* How we mourn|
* How we applaud
* How we collaborate
* How we investigate
* How we evaluate
* How we shop
Social Media is Mobile
Another really important point - social media is mobile. A key shift has been the increase in frequency with which smart phone and tablet users use their devices to connect to peers, content and information. Across all four categories - email, news, information access and social networking - the largest observed increases were among mobile users who access such services daily (as compared to weekly or monthly). Social networking in particular registered high growth with daily users increasing by over 80% over the last two years. An interesting statistic that I came across recently was that there are over 4 billion smart phone users in the world compared to over 3 billion toothbrushes users - an amazing statistic. Also, a family in a third world country earning just $80 a month is likely to own a mobile advice!
Your competition is on social media - can you afford not to include social media in your marketing strategy? The real issue here is who are your competitors - someone in the same city, area, state, country? For many, potential competitors will be spread far and wide, not just in your immediate area!
Social Media is Part of Your Marketing Strategy
It is important to ensure social media is just one part of your marketing strategy. Do not see social media as a standalone activity. Rather, it must be integrated with your marketing plan. Your message must be consistent with you other marketing initiatives. If you have a web site, social media can be invaluable in driving traffic to your website or online store.
It is critical to plan your use of social media carefully.
You must establish clear objectives for your social media initiatives. In other words, why are you doing it? Having clear objectives as to what you are aiming to achieve will assist you in determining the success or otherwise of your social media initiatives.
So, it is really important not to just wing it - establish clear social media guidelines
You must listen to where your target market is as part of devising your social media strategies as part of your marketing plan. Where your market is can be affected by demographics, location and many other factors.
You must have a robust social media strategy for your business linked to your business objectives. Simply put, you will need to spend more time in careful planning, rather than in it's execution. It looks a lot like this:
7 Ways Your Business Could Be Using Social Media1. Public relations - Social media platforms present a completely new opportunity to instantly deliver messages to millions of people. The impact on public relations is simply ground breaking!
2. Customer support - Where traditionally customer support has been viewed as a cost centre, smarter businesses are using social networks to help offload their support costs on to a community of super users.
3. Market research - Having access to millions of consumers who are openly talking about their rational and emotional needs is a goldmine for market research.
4. New product development - Some companies are leveraging a public pool of collective brainpower to help their businesses identify innovative new market opportunities and even assist with the development of new product concepts.
5. Hiring & recruitment - Social media is a good and very effective source to recruit the right talent for your business by locating referrals, references and recommendations.
6. Promotions - Some of the most successful promotions have employed the power of social networks to create a fan base that didn't exist prior to the promotion.
7. Sales - The ability to sell has caught on and more and more retailers are reaping the benefits of enhancing their curb appeal inside their social shopping mall.
So that brings to a close Part 2 of this series. The major take homes of this part are:
2. Set clear objectives
3. Recognise that your customers and competitors are already on social media - how can you not have a social media strategy?
4. Carefully plan your social media strategies
5. Be patient
6. Your aim should not be to sell - it should be to create community, trust, inform and educate.
In Part 3 and the final part of this series, we will look at some of the specific tools used in the execution of your social media marketing strategies. More specifically, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Blogging.
Should you have any specific questions regarding marketing and social media, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until then, happy marketing