Social media is a way that you and your business can interact with others and share and create content through online communities and platforms.
Social media is the greatest marketing opportunity for businesses to reach their audiences. You can use social media to:
- promote the name of your brand and business
- tell customers about your goods and services
- find out what customers think of your business
- attract new customers
- build stronger relationships with existing customers.
Advantages of using social media
Social media marketing has many advantages and it is important to be aware of the power that it has before you jump into the water.
- broad reach - social media can reach millions of people all around the world, so make sure your message is right when it goes out. It can be detrimental to put out the wrong information.
- ability to target particular groups – many forms of social media (e.g. Facebook, Foursquare) allow businesses to target specific groups, often in particular locations. This makes it great for reaching customers across certain demographics and groups.
- free or low-cost - many forms of social media are free for business, and paid options are usually low-cost. Look at the benefits of the paid options as they will often have vital features such as analytics and results measuring.
- personal - social media allow you to communicate on a personal basis with individual customers and groups. Give your profiles a face and a voice. Don’t hide who manages your accounts.
- fast – you can quickly distribute information to many people. Great for spreading breaking news.
- easy - you don’t need high-level skills or computer equipment to participate in social media. The average person with a standard computer should have no difficulty.
Risks of using social media
Of course, marketing through social media also has its risks. Like any marketing you need to assess the different risks each platform for social media offers.
- wasted time and money for little or no tangible return. You need to be strategic with your time and marketing so that you don’t waste vital business hours posting messages that don’t reach the right audience.
- the rapid spread of the wrong kind of information about your business e.g. incorrect information accidentally posted by you, negative reviews posted by others. When you see something negative react proactively and not reactively. There is a difference.
- legal problems if you don’t follow privacy legislation and the laws regarding spam, copyright and other online issues.
It’s important to be aware of these risks and ensure that you and your team know of the strategies to implement should you have to.
Top Social Media Platforms
Different types of social media are good for different marketing activities. The key point to remember is to find the ones that work for your business and concentrate on those. You don’t have to be EVERYWHERE to be seen.
- Facebook - a social networking site that allows you to have conversations with customers, post photos and videos, promote special offers, and run competitions
- Twitter - a ‘micro-blogging’ service that allows you to send and receive short messages from customers and potential customers and find others who might need your products
- YouTube - an online video-hosting service that lets people share their videos
- blogs - internet sites that contain a series of entries or ‘posts’ about topics of interest to the author, much like an online ‘diary’. A great way to drive traffic to your website
- online photo-sharing services - websites that allow users to store, organise and share their photo collections. These include Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr.
If you adopt profiles on these platforms make sure your website tells visitors about where they can find and interact with you online otherwise it will be awfully lonely in the big wide world. Take your time looking at where your competitors are hanging out and what are they doing that is really cool and engaging their audience. You can learn a lot from watching first before diving in. After all remember, if you get it wrong on social media it can spread like wildfire and be difficult to retract. Take your time and get it right and you’ll build a strong online following who appreciate your messages.