Our company, Equifaira Advisors, had a daylong planning session yesterday for 2018. It was a rollout of a revised mission statement, budget forecasts and a strategic plan to acquire and manage clients. It was a performance review but it also was a short and long-range plan to take the company to the ‘next level.’
My team realized, like most marketing strategists, that 80% of our content on social media should be educational and 20% should be somewhat promotion. Since our product is in private financing for startups, we figured a subtle call to action would be more our style.
It got me thinking as to why business people use social media in the first place. I told my colleagues that it was for educational and promotion but it is more far-reaching than just those two reasons.
Here are a few with a little help from Buffer’s, The State of Social Media 2016 Report. It’s still relevant for 2018. The first five were ranked by Buffer. I think ordr might be a bit off but you can decide the relevancy yourself.
- Brand Awareness (Ranked 85% in importance)
It’s hard to argue with this one. Making your brand visible to the world is done with good content, knowing when to sell (and when not to) and doing the behind the scenes work that will get your mission out to more, e.g. SEO and link building. As they say, you can’t just open your doors and expect customers to show up.
You can use great content spread over identified platforms that match your demographics, deliver an infomrative podcast or write a book. The marketing ideas are vast.
- Community Engagement (Ranked 71%)
If you are engaging on social media to the right demographics for your product or service go full tilt. Years ago community service organizations like the Lions Club or Rotary would have community events to engage with the people they needed to reach and develop relationships. Small businesses often support minor hockey or other activities. Social media can act in the same manner you just need to be creative.
- Content Distribution (Ranked 61%)
We all have something to say and spreading it to the masses is in our nature. When we have a product or service we believe in we want the world to know. We want to inform them, change the way people think or show them different options. Educating your audience is the fist step in making them your customers. I think good content distribution is Marketing 101.
- Lead Generation and Sales (Ranked 54%)
The fact that this is ranked fourth indicates to me that people realize they can’t continuously beat people over the head with their product. People want to know more about your company and your product, trust you and are informed before they buy from you.
A well-informed campaign designed to intrigue the prospective customer that is well thought out and responds to their needs with a solution is the goal of any marketer.
- Customer Service (Ranked 21%)
I think customer service (CS) got a bad rap on this list. To me you can be on the lips of every one on the planet and have customers lined up to purchase but if it takes too long to buy the product (lineups), breaks down when you get home or is plainly poor quality when you use it people will not buy another thing from you. How do you know they are not satisfied? Ask your customers what they think.
A good CS program will increase customer/brand retention. Customer satisfaction comes from listening to their problems with your product or service and finding a solution quickly. Good CS will give you feedback/research on how to improve your offering thereby increasing revenue. I will walk over broken glass to get to some businesses I love because of their customer service and how they consistently treat me.
Some reasons for using social media could be considered subsets of brand awareness and lead generation but it’s good to point them out anyway.
- Creating Authority
Experts have always been sought after and the new term ‘thought-leader’ or ‘influencer’ is the new terminology. People want advice from, and will be buy from, people who are known to be experts in their field whether it is a company or an individual. Being a thought-leader yells to the world that you know what you are talking about and they should listen to you. It takes dedication to your product or service and a great deal of engagement with your client base to become an expert but it is worth the effort.
- Creating Trust
This is more than being an expert this social media benefit comes from people believing that you are sincere and your offering is fairly priced for what you get and that you believe in customer satisfaction. Sales will naturally be drawn to you. I think being a source of knowledge, giving freely of yourself in your interactions with customers and prospective customers will create this feeling that they can trust you. I admit I still purchase things from businesses I don’t fully trust but I have to think long and hard before I plunk down my money to them.
- Saving Costs
Some might put this at the top of the list of the benefits of social media. You can’t argue that creating a blog post then disseminating to thousands of people on Twitter or LinkedIn is better than sending out printed flyers to your neighbourhood. Guerrilla Marketing was coined in 1984 by Jay Conrad Levinson well before social media but defines an unconventional and creative manner to market to people with little or no money. Sounds like he was talking about social media to me.
- Being Consistent
If the people reading your social media content realize the content is consistently on topic, well written and informative they will soon realize you are worth spending money on. I had a guy apply for a job whose business card read, “Bob Smith, Photography & Jewellery” – what? Needless to say I didn’t feel he was consistent with his message or his profession.
The last two are more of a benefit for either a company wanting to stand out over others as a benefactor to society or a founder that just feels that they want to do business in a different, maybe more ethical way. Either way both are relevant. I have several friends and business owners who have added some social relevance into their business model that makes them feel like they are ‘paying it forward.’
- A Social Strategy
I love engaging with people, customers or not, and feel that the benefit of just listening to them intently will give you an advantage over your competition. When you listen to them you may pick up a need on their part that calls our for fulfillment. Let’s say you and/or your employees have a strong kinship with local community development. If your mission includes fundamental purpose driven goals that not only create sales for you but also helps your community you will create brand ambassadors of both your employees and customers. Being altruistic is rewarding!
- Start a Movement and/or Stand for Something
How does a business start a movement? My friend has a children’s website called Greanwold World. It’s very child friendly and offers lots of activities that a child can do, probably helping parents manage them as a great by-product. He is selling things to parents but he also has a component that teaches kids about ecology, sustainability and global warming. He is very committed to this and it shows in the numbers hitting his website. Will it catch on and become a huge thing – not sure, but it works for him.
When 93% of marketers say that they are using Facebook ads to get their business in front of the most people that says a lot about social media. The thing with social media is to pick a platform that is relevant to you, be honest with people, make your product the best it can be and social media will work for you.
Check out my latest book, “Social Media Rockstar – Social Media Marketing for Entrepreneurs and Business” on Amazon
*Gary is the Adjunct Professor of Social Media Marketing, School of Management, New York Institute of Technology (Vancouver Campus)