Social media is a powerful force for businesses of all sizes, allowing them to connect with millions of potential customers in a timely, intimate and interactive way. And unlike other forms of marketing and advertising, it’s low-cost, greatly levelling the playing field for small to medium businesses.
In fact social media is completely revolutionising the way we the way communicate, interact and do business:
- Social media is a global force. There are over 659 million people on facebook worldwide, including over 10 million Australians
- Many people now filter their news through twitter and facebook. For example the New York Times now has more twitter followers, than print circulation.
- Social media accounts for nearly 22% of time spent on the internet in Australia (Comscore, December, 2010)
- Social media greatly impacts on brand reputation. According to a survey conducted by RightNow, 16% of Australian consumers reported they had stopped doing business with a company because of a social media discussion they had seen about how the company treats customers. Another 16% stated they had also seen a positive discussion about a company and gone on to make a purchase.
- Social media is now more important than advertising for influencing decisions. In another survey by RightNow, 58% of respondents deemed customer reviews and feedback online to the be the most important source to influence decision making, with advertising of any shape or form the least important.
It’s little wonder thousands of companies are trying to jump on board the social media bandwagon – setting up facebook pages and twitter accounts willy-nilly, outsourcing social media responsibilities to work experience interns, and blogging about what they had for breakfast.
But used in the wrong way or left in the wrong hands the power of social media can be a detrimental force. So it’s important to maintain focus and if you’re not sure what you’re doing, get some advice from a social media consultant.
Getting social media right takes time, experience and skill. Before you take the first steps consider:
What you want to get out of social media? Before you start-out on social media it’s important to have measurable goals you want to achieve. Are you trying to gain new leads, expand brand, connect more deeply with existing customers or attract media attention?
How much time do you have to dedicate to social media? There’s no point setting up and promoting a new facebook page or twitter profile if you don’t have the time to really do something with it. Your customers expect to engage and interact with your brand via social media so don’t let them down. And remember to factor in a resource to respond to your customers’ queries, ideas and complaints. Leaving a page unattended is unprofessional, and risky.
Do you have an experienced social media resource? You wouldn’t leave your marketing and PR campaigns to an inexperienced member of your team, so why would you trust them to speak on your behalf via social media? Consider social media training for your employees or outsource work to a social media consultant.
What are the unique opportunities and risks for your business? Just because your friends’ businesses and your competitors are using social media one way, doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Your business is unique, with unique opportunities and risks so your social media strategy should factor that in.
Social media could be a powerful force for your business, helping you build relationships with clients, prospects, referral sources and traditional media channels. But don’t leave it to chance – do your research, think through your strategy and enlist the help of a social media consultant until you’ve got the hang of things.
At social central we can be involved as much or as little as you like – from a day consulting inside your company, to providing monthly content packages or acting as your fulltime social media manager. Check out our most popular products, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0405 761 881Tags: business, power of social media, sme, social media, social media consultant, tips