The importance of social media to your business has become apparent over the last few years and it can be seen as a viable channel to do some good old fashioned selling. It is not a secret that 5 years ago businesses were not involved heavily in social media or saw the requirement for it in relation to their marketing activities. TV advertising was still rife and print sales were at an all-time high. There was no reason to even consider the alternative of social media.
Then came the establishment of social media giant Facebook in 2004 and the world turned on its head. Internet users were readily accessing information about people and companies. The physical “Directory” was losing and social media, content and advertising were climbing. It was not long until businesses began to question their traditional marketing methods and many considered a dual approach made up of both online and offline.
Today, this could not be more accurate. Businesses are very aware of their impact online and the ease at which they can engage, inform and influence their potential customers through the internet. This is especially true as businesses can choose to simply utilise a social media account as a free way to advertise or alternatively pay to advertise and reach out to people. Followers, “friends” and readers can now get a feel for who a company is and what they stand for as opposed to what they do and what they are selling. People no longer merely buy into the product, they buy into the brand and one of the easiest ways to discover a brand is to research it online and establish where the presence is and what it consists of.
If you’re not speaking, how do you expect to be heard?
Social media provides the medium through which brand awareness is fluidly established as long as specific content is apparent and accurate. People have a natural urge to be informed and involved in what is current and in their specific interests. As a business, it is important to communicate what is happening in your sector in real time. Information has never moved so quickly and things have never been so easily forgotten. Would you prefer your business to keep up with the rush to the best of its ability or for it to be setting the pace and maintain it? Keeping your readers informed is important to the role of speaking online. You don’t want your readers having to go elsewhere for information you already possess.
Three things: engage, engage, engage
It is one thing to shout from the roof tops about your company and its products/services, however, it is an entirely different thing altogether to be shouting this information whilst engaging your readership. Engaging automatically humanises a company. You are no longer this seemingly corporate giant on a mountain, you are the gentle goat who has journeyed the wilderness to inform and people are paying attention. People appreciate a brand that is not afraid to talk to its customers for fear it will shatter the illusion of a higher power. There is a lot that can be said for a general morning greeting or sign off and businesses are becoming very aware of this.
Meanwhile, there is still hesitation to communicate on ground level. Businesses feel more comfortable shouting their boasts from afar as opposed to up close and personal. Readerships can be an intimidating notion. With one swift, immediate, striking comment a reader can blow a hole in a company’s statement and, whether it is accurate or not, the company has been exposed to doubt and suspicion. Understanding that this is an occurrence that comes with the package of having an online presence, companies must stride confidently in the belief of their word and their loyal customer base.
No, this ratio is not a reference to how you should approach diet and exercise. This rules applies to the level at which you entertain versus the amount you advertise yourselves and what you do. Kevan Lee from Buffer speaks about a range of different ratios in relation to social media, “and one thing they all have in common is an emphasis on sharing others’ content more than your own.” To attract people to your social channels, there has to be a selling point aside from the things you are actually selling. Sell your personality and topics you know your readers will appreciate because it is still highly relevant to your business and because it is also highly entertaining and/or informing in relation to what is current.
If you’re not online you’re off target
Online presence in essence is essential to you and your business in order for it to be truly relevant in the greater spectrum of things. Whilst social media seems like such a simplistic aspect to the extent that it could be ignored, that assumption would be a huge mistake. The benefits of social media cannot be measured at every instance as the metric for informing an audience is difficult to established, however, one cannot underestimate the effects of engaging your readership. Social media is important, simply because ignoring this tool can put your business at a competitive disadvantage whilst missing out on the opportunity to reach out to your customer base and far beyond.
Inform, influence, engage.
Rachel Kenny is Marketing Executive at E-MIT Solutions, an Irish IT solutions company specialising in IT Consultancy, Cloud Computing, IT Security & IT infrastructure solutions.