It is important to understand the realities of social media and what’s possible to help them maximise and utilise the platforms to best effect, says freelance writer and digital strategy consultant Andrew Hutchinson.
“Social platforms are really what you make, or don’t make of them so the advantages and disadvantages are relative,” says Hutchinson. “More people using social media will mean a better experience for all users.”
That means examining the pros and cons of its use as a marketing tool for your business.
Data tracking, ads and safety
Some businesses are hesitant to enter social media over concerns about the security of their data and browsing history... But largely these fears are misplaced, Hutchinson says.
“Many people have concerns about online privacy and their data getting into the wrong hands, but the fact is, in the modern world, your data is being tracked in any number of ways – social media is just one of them,” he says.
Typically the only way your data is used by social media is when they attempt to target ads to you, based on your behaviours and details, he says.
“While it may be a bit creepy to look up ‘basketball shoes’ one day, and have ads for basketball shoes appear in your sidebar, in the majority of cases this will be the extent of how your data is used,” Hutchinson says.
Data will become a key component to all campaigns
The wealth created by social media allows businesses to reach out to people like never before, Hutchinson says.
“We’ve only really started to get an understanding of what big data is and how we can use it, because we’ve never had insights of this magnitude before,” he says.
“A full 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years – 90% of information that simply wasn’t logged in any form before.”
This knowledge will provide businesses with enormous amount of information to better focus their advertising and marketing efforts, Hutchinson says.
Get involved, educate yourself
What’s being discussed in your industry? Do you have a handle on the social media conversations that are of relevance to your business?
If you’re not involved, you’re missing out on being part of the conversation, Hutchinson says.
“Maybe you don’t find a huge number of relevant posts or tweets that can really help you target your content,” he says.
“But, increasingly, the chances are you will find relevant information, and the more open you are to this, the more you can learn and absorb from these new channels,”
Be open to what’s happening online
Online is where your target audience is connecting and interacting. It’s worth engaging with it, rather than dismissing it, says Hutchinson.
As a marketing tool, social media channels assists with connecting with people via platform-relevant content, so understand what your audience responds to and want from your brand.
“Use it as a recruitment tool, as an amplification engine, or as a super-targeted advertising engine,” Hutchinson says.
“It’s all of these for some, it’s some of these for others, but I’m yet to find a business who, upon looking into it, finds no use at all in social media and the insights and opportunities available.”