Most people in business fall somewhere between two extremes when it comes to social media:
- We have those who pledge allegiance to the flag of social media regardless of its potential impact on their profit. They’ll spend all day tweeting, posting, sharing, hearting and whatever-else-ing because they love it. To them it’s not a business activity but a social activity.
- The stubborn sceptics. To them Twitter is for twits and Linkedin is online dating for the under-employed. They refuse to dip their toes in the water for fear of being drowned in time vampire notifications and wasting their lives being harassed by people they don’t like.
The rest of us lie somewhere in between. Perhaps you’ve experimented with social media, but unsure of how to integrate it into your marketing and daily activities it got left behind and your half-finished profiles live on to haunt you about what could have been. Or maybe you’ve heard how important social media can be, but without knowing where to start or what to aim for, it all seems a bit overwhelming.
Whether you’re new to business or an experienced marketer looking to sharpen your saw with the new tools, this book will navigate you through the process of developing your own social media identity, incorporating the values that make your business special and give you a road map for using these components to grow your business.
Social media marketing doesn’t just have to be about big brands with dedicated teams getting their topics trending. In fact it’s actually the small and medium sized businesses who have the most to gain from a well designed social campaign. Learning lessons from the big brands and applying them to smaller businesses is the name of the game here.
Social Media is the Oldest Form of Marketing
Far from being a new fad, ‘social marketing’ is the oldest form of marketing. Conversations about their products and services have always been an important source of sales for businesses who offer something good. But until Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & co came along, these conversations happened in private, out of sight of the companies being discussed.
Now, thanks to social media, all these conversations are happening in public and within a few clicks of anyone who wants to find them. Word of mouth can be measured, encouraged, promoted and even shaped in a more effective way than ever before. Savvy businesses can identify potential customers at their peak moment of need, not because they walk into a shop, but just because they say something. You and I can advertise to fans of a particular brand, product or lifestyle for just a few cents, and in less than 10 minutes. Even more significant, we can build authority and attract a targeted audience without paying a penny. This sort of opportunity has never before existed.
Critics of social media have completely missed this point, preferring to focus on the disposable and irrelevant aspects instead. They’ll say things like “why would I use Twitter? I don’t care what celebrities eat for breakfast”. This is like saying “I don’t read books because I’m not interested in trashy novels” or “I don’t watch TV because I’m not interested in music videos”. They’re not only throwing the baby out with the bathwater, they’re throwing the entire bath out as well.
Many businesses failed to spot potential in the early Internet for anything other than tech-geeks. Critics of the slow and noisy early automobiles failed to spot the transformation it would have on productivity and mobility over time. As with any revolutionary technology, there will be critics and people who see the potential and grab the opportunity with both hands.
So whether it’s reaching potential clients, existing clients and other stakeholders in any part of the world; generating leads, or building your brand and positioning you and your business at the forefront in your market, social media, done properly, can be extremely profitable and effective. And nothing to do with photos of food and cats – unless you’re a cat food company.
The Size of the Opportunity
The size of the potential audience is so large it’s difficult to truly appreciate. Facebook’s latest report puts the number of monthly active users at 1.15 billion. Twitter comes in at over 500 million. Google+? 365 million.
But what’s most exciting is not the big numbers, as very few businesses will have something that a billion people want. What’s much more exciting is that these big numbers are built from millions upon millions of different niches. Whether it’s Chihuahua owners, Chihauhua puppy breeders or people who dress up as Chihuahuas at the weekend; fans of high end audio, high end wine or jumping off high buildings, if your audience shares a common interest, trait or goal, you can be in front of them within seconds. It doesn’t matter where they live, what they spend their time doing or the magazines they read – they’re all there using social media.
And it’s not just consumer businesses: Social Media channels have changed the way businesses interact with other businesses, potential investors and other stakeholders as well.
Customer Service (in Public)
Of course there are many other reasons for getting into Social Media Marketing for your business. Most large brands are still unsure about how to deal with the customer service opportunity now that their customers can (and do) take to Twitter or Facebook to complain or praise any aspect from service to price. Many brands choose to ignore it, hoping it will go away and scared of being held to ransom by angry customers influential on social networks. But as we’ll see later in the book, this ‘tactic’ is a wasted opportunity to sell more.
So as you can see, the potential for social media success is huge. Companies like ours regularly audit and consult with a range of businesses from around the world, and it’s very rare – almost unheard of – that we’ll see a market with more than a couple players using social media really effectively. Whether it’s a lack of resources and know how or an unwillingness to take the risk of jumping in, your competitors are almost certainly underusing social and passing up a massive opportunity. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. Getting social media right could be the most important thing you do for your business this year.
This excerpt was taken from our new book: Profitable Social Media Marketing: Grow your business using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and more…
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