Social Media Marketing is Critical in the Digital Age
Any company that still views social media marketing as optional or even the next big thing shows a remarkable capability for poor judgement.
The truth is that it was the next big thing ten years ago. Right now, it's THE thing. These days, the question of whether or not you should implement a social media marketing plan (you should) is so silly that you just might get laughed off the internet for asking it. It would be difficult to overstate the importance of social media to a business in the Digital Age. Here's why.
Social Media Levels the Playing Field
If you were to try to go toe-to-toe with a business titan (Wal-Mart, Apple, Amazon) in the traditional world of advertising - radio, television, print - you would be squashed like a frog under a school bus.
But social media is different. It's a world where a small business with more online savvy than money can equal or even outperform the big guys. What matters with social media is how good you are at providing clever, funny, useful, shareable content.
Luckily for the little guy, the behemoths with their Madison Avenue marketing teams don't seem to take to this environment naturally.
What this means to you is that the social media space offers the best bang-for-your-buck going right now. You CAN compete!
Your Competition is Already There
If your brand isn't on at least two social media platforms, you're already behind because you can bet your competition is doing it. The latest statistics from SmallBizTrends.com reveal that one out of every four small businesses has no social media presence.
There's still a sizable chunk who don't, you might say. That's one way to look at it. A smarter way would be to acknowledge that three out of four have jumped on the bandwagon, leaving the rest with practically no way to interact with the 95 percent of adults in the 18-34 age group who are most likely to follow a brand via social networking.
How, pray tell, are you going to find new customers in the coming years? Have fun talking to those crickets.
Online Fans are More Loyal
You've probably heard of the 80/20 rule. The ratio might not be exact for every single business, but the concept holds true. Around 20 percent of your customers account for about 80 percent of your business. The trick lies in finding which 20 percent are the best customers and target your marketing efforts more heavily towards them.
Keep that little informational nugget in your head while we tell you that a recent study from Texas Tech University revealed that brands with the most active social media accounts tended to attract the most loyal customers. By now you should be putting two and two together to conclude that your best bet to grow your business lies in securing the most loyal customers from where they are hanging out - online.
Address Problems Instantly
It's been obvious for a while that disappointed or outraged customers take their complaints online.
Unless you respond quickly, they'll be leaving bad reviews all over the place, trashing your brand through word-of-mouth. It would be worth something to you to nip all this negativity in the bud, right? It should be.
Social media is the arena of customer service in the Digital Age.
If you let complaints about your business go without a response, casual browsers will just assume your company sucks. It's like sitting at a corner table at the big dance sipping water while everyone else is whirling around on the floor, having a grand old time, knocking back whiskey on the sly.
If you're not in the game, you're out of the game. Business is brutal and hanging out on the sidelines virtually guarantees failure. The ONLY shot you have in battling online brand negativity is to engage it (politely, of course) in the social media platform from which it emanates.
People often complain that social media companies know too much about their platform's users. You can sit around and wring your hands and worry about the imminent arrival of the Big Brother Police State, or you can take advantage of the dizzying array of metrics offered by a company such as Facebook to target your advertising as never before. Hand those radio, television, and print media salesperson shills their walking papers because they know nothing about their audience compared to Facebook or any other social media platform.
Would you like to target geographic location, education level, purchase history, and even the pages they've liked? Don't try that with your local radio station. Facebook can do it, though. Easy as pie. Social media is the absolute bomb for getting the most out of your advertising budget.
Have you heard of retargeting yet? If you use a social media site for personal reasons, there's a good chance you've already experienced it as a consumer. Ever wonder why you start seeing ads on your timeline from a website you visited a few hours ago?
You place a Facebook pixel on your website. When a user visits, Facebook keeps track of it and starts showing them your ads next time they're on the platform. Studies have shown for a long time that if someone has already shown preliminary interest in your product or service, they are much more likely to convert into a paying customer eventually. All they need is a little reminder.
It’s How You Build Real Relationships Today
Social media platforms are where people go to interact these days.
While you might consider it a nuisance to have to respond to comments and questions, you need to turn your thinking around.
There's serious gold in these simple interactions. Communicating with customers online gives you FREE access into their daily lives with each status update. Comment on the things that interest them. Ask questions. All of this helps target your marketing more precisely, which is the bottom line every business should never stop thinking about.
As your visibility rises, expect to have the opportunity to talk with competitors and other complementary industries. When you're standing behind a busy checkout counter, there's no time to bond with customers, but online is a different story. You need to schedule time each day to follow up on questions, suggestions, and to simply comment to those you suspect might eventually become part of that 20 percent of loyal customers who propel your business into the promised land.
Often the difference between success and failure in business lies in the ability to keep yourself foremost in a customer's mind when he or she is ready to buy a product or service you sell.
While McDonald's might spend millions to send you driving in a frothing frenzy towards the golden arches for the latest gourmet burger, you can do the same thing with social media and not spend a penny. But even better than keeping your brand in mind, you'll have a never-ending opportunity to create incentives for customers to buy from you more frequently. Sending out a daily deal is as simple as stringing a few sentences together and hitting ‘publish.'
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the importance of social media marketing can be summed up with one thought: Not doing it means you aren't serious about your business.
There's no other way to put your brand in front of customers who didn't even know it existed and no better way for you to find customers you had no idea existed. There's one other thing we haven't mentioned yet. As opposed to other forms of marketing, this one can actually be fun.