Many SMEs have been quick to jump on social media as a means of promoting their brand and generating sales, while others still think it’s a buzzword with no practical benefits.
But every opportunity you have to increase your visibility is valuable, and with minimal setup costs, a huge traffic-driving potential and the chance to expand your customer base, it’s time to completely shrug off the myth that social media is a fad and realise that it can benefit your business.
Learn about your users
Conversing and listening to your customers will provide you with qualitative feedback for market research purposes to help guide your business decisions – and social media gives you just that.
The range of platforms you can use, from Twitter through to Facebook, provides you with a direct, bilateral conversation with your customers, making forming effective relationships easier to accomplish than ever, says Airtasker cofounder and chief executive Tim Fung.
Follow what your competitors are doing and saying, or what customers are saying about them, and you might discover ways to differentiate your brand and yield better results.
Social media can also be an effective way of dealing with criticism or negative comments from a dissatisfied customer.
With the added benefits of analytics tools like Hootsuite, you can study the main posting and communication style, and age and gender, of your online audience.
People follow the crowd
If you’re looking to economically grow your user base, you can harness a concept called ‘social proof’, says Fung.
Generating social proof can multiply the discovery of your brand and add to its influence as you are displaying your trusted customer relationships to potential new customers through your online interactions, he says.
Don’t underestimate the power of testimonials, of user ratings and reviews as a positive (or negative) influence. This is the ‘proof’ for your brand’s trustworthiness that customers look for across your accounts.
Increased brand recognition
“Without a doubt social media is about capturing more and more of people’s eyeball time,” says Fung. “Simply being present will help you drive awareness which can be useful for building your future sales pipeline.”
However, while it might offer a less-expensive marketing option, social media can sometimes cost more in time than in money. That’s why it’s so important to start with a strategic vision for how each platform can contribute to building your business.
“There are a number of reasons why it’s important for businesses of all sizes to consider using social media. However, it’s obviously important for each business to also consider if social platforms are right for them,” says Fung.
There are certainly costs in supporting these channels – which can often be underestimated – so if you do decide to dedicate time to social media, make sure the platforms you choose provide you with these sorts of recognisable, tangible benefits.