How on earth did businesses get noticed in the pre-internet days? Well, you pretty much had two choices; big buck TV and radio advertising or leaner newspaper classifieds and the good old Yellow Pages!!
Looking back it all seems incredibly primitive. Especially since the early noughties advent of social media. All of a sudden the lid was blown off on global communications and a world-wide audience was opened up to businesses of every conceivable size and ilk.
And yet, it’s been somewhat of a fine tuning process to convert these social communities into viable B2C and B2B markets. Putting aside the subtle nuances of sharing etiquette, and an initial mistrust of corporate accounts, often the biggest stumbling block has been a reticence within our own organisations to dive in and embrace this brave new world.
Management teams worry about time management implications and legalities of saying the ‘wrong thing.’ While IT departments shudder at the thought of security threats and firewall infiltrations. And operational colleagues view sitting on Facebook all day – because that’s all the fluffy marketing department does all day (!) – as a bit of a jolly.
Thankfully, it’s fair to say that we’ve reached an age of enlightenment whereby these types of quibbles are few and far between. At least, we hope that’s the case. But with the growing portfolio of social media channels (like Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram) swelling a market traditionally dominated by Facebook and Twitter it’s noticeable that a great deal of our resources are being funnelled towards meaningful online engagement.
As such, it might be a timely juncture to revisit the justifications for these pursuits to appease the top brass and demonstrate how all those ‘likes’ and ‘re-tweets’ are adding tangible ROI for the company.
How do you measure up?
It’s all about the bottom line, with everything we do in business. Social media is no different. So when the boss hollers “show me the money,” you’d better be prepared with some incisive analytics to prove the worth of all that social interaction. Once they can see that profits have been buoyed, as a direct result of that latest social content, you’re onto a winner. If you can demonstrate how many new potential clients you’re channeling through to the corporate website, via your social media presence, and how many of them convert to leads and solid sales then bravo – you’ve achieved the holy grail.
You’ve got to be in it to win it
Whether you’re in the business of flogging centrifugal pumps or diaphragm valves – you need to establish your brand as the market leader. The first place your potential customers will go to check out your wares is your website. It stands to reason then that an engaging social media presence will do wonders to corral your customers to your all important virtual shop window. With some concerted social content, that places your brand as the last word in your particular field, you’ll develop a cache of trust and credibility that will stand you in great stead for converting a curious onlooker into a fervently loyal customer.
Avoid being rank outsiders
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has become the buzzword for marketers ever intent on creeping up Google’s page rankings to secure their brand some primetime exposure. Social signals, like Google’s invaluable Author Rank – which measures a source’s number of Google+ circles and interactions such as likes, +1s and tweets (to name but a few) – have set a precedent for developing high value social engagement. Original content, such as an authoritative blog, that garners a large volume of interactions and shares demonstrates social proof in the eyes of Google. If your social tentacles are reaching ever-increasing circles of influence then you can expect your organisational website to creep up the rankings and your individual stock to rise as a consequence.
Ideal for testing the water
Businesses are discovering, sometimes at their peril, that social media provides an unparalleled outlet for swift and immediate feedback. By taking a proactive stance and involving customers with behind the scenes updates, competitions, special offers and interesting photos, you’re adding value to their online experience of your brand and increasing the possibility that they’ll share your content – and ultimately brand – with their own followers. Bearing in mind the seismic viral consequences of just one customer sharing your witty update to their network of friends and very quickly your business is reaching a vast, untapped market of potential acolytes who were none the wiser to your existence before you made your social media presence felt. Of course, you need to have a water-tight social media policy and social media strategy in place!