In the internet landscape, social media or social networking is ruling the world. Why has social media become so popular? Can a website owner in conjunction with a digital strategy use these tools to their advantage? I know there are many networks to choose from. The main thing to remember is to be effective you can't access them all. Be selective and work for quality over quantity. The amount of people using social media is huge as this fact sheet from PewResearchCenter says 74% of all people use social networking.
What is the definition of Social Media?
Wikipedia defines social media as " computer-mediated tools that allow people, companies and other organisations to create, share, or exchange informationideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks.]....[ Social media depend on mobile and web-based technologies to create highly interactive platforms through which individuals and communities share, co-create, discuss, and modify user-generated content. They introduce substantial and pervasive changes to communication between businesses, organisations, communities, and individuals. Wikipedia Information on Social Media
It's a great way to find like-minded individuals
It does sound long winded but really a social network is a tool for like-minded people around a certain category that are able to communicate using different devices at a time that suits them. This interaction can be on any topic or geographical area. For business, this is great finding like-minded individuals that could use their service or product what a gift. The different types of social media tools that are open to a business are vast we have collated some of the major networks and how they benefit business
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. Recently with the purchase of SlideShare and coupled with a massive amount of content it produces, it is fast becoming a network that people with professional skills are using to find others to compliment their skills or recruit. It's free to sign up.
Things to watch: don't just link with everyone you know in your email box, choose people that you trust and are able to complete the tasks that they promised. Linkedin is a huge referral machine. Potential employers and business owners will look you up to see who you are linked to and if you are someone of authority in your skill set.
Facebook has now over 800 million people registered. You create a user account under your personal name and then you can start adding or creating connections. Originally this network was about connecting people, now it is much more.
With all those people talking to each other online it became apparent business would want to get involved. Today you can register your business or organisations' profile and display all sorts of information like,
- Your connection
- What you like
Yes! people will just about put anything on Facebook and for this reason, Facebook can work out how to advertise to you. With all this information and customers interacting around a certain subject, it will help any business and their brand that wants to be apart of that community. You can ask your new audience questions, run competitions and with a little forethought your audiences will gratefully endorse you through the use of Likes and Comments.
This is my personal favorite, Purencool use Twitter multiple times a day. Known as the 'SMS of the internet', you can write short, 140 characters, messages informally called 'Tweets'. But again who reads them? Someone can search for you or a topic.
Conversations create brand loyalty with a customer
Once you have 'followers', you can direct or one on one message them, creating conversations and emotionally engaging them. After a short time, your business will have created attachments and along with it good will.
When creating content Twitter users love to share but they will only do that if they believe you are an authority. This can be achieved by having the most followers but followers that are engaged in your brand and the type of audience you are passion about.
Instagram is mainly images and video the information that is displayed needs to be relevant to your business and brand many people make the mistake of adding information that will confuse the customer and is not relevant. Yes, the odd casual photo or video is great but brand loyalty will only work if the recognise you.
This social media network is owned by Facebook and we have been experimenting with it for a while now and have found that images and video will get our audience to engage with us. But like Twitter you need quality followers that are brand loyal. They now have a feature to see how many people actually visit your website, what age range and gender your followers are and what time they are connecting to Instagram.
Social Media Ads
Yes on all the above networks you can purchase ads around a certain topic, age range, and other variables. Thye are not expensive to run if you do it in small time limits and ensure that your target market is really vertical.
But there is still some debate if they produce leads. They will give your customers brand awareness of who you are but this is only one step in producing relevant and loyal engagement and leads.
Social Media and Search Engines
Search engines can't access all the information that social media produce, so even though they may use some of the information they can obtain it is not a sure way to increase your ranking. Does that mean you should not use social media as it won't help your website get traffic and your business grow?
The best way to use social media is to keep relationships you have developed offline going online. Encourage new relationships, these relationships will help search engines to understand your relevance in the ecosphere that your business is engaged in.
How a business can use Social Media
If you are interested in getting growth in your business, using social media is an excellent way to show what your business is currently working on, to launch a new product, to make business announcements, and share images and videos. There are some rules on how to use these tools and yes it sounds like common sense but you would be amazed how often these are ignored, so dont:
- Whine about other businesses
- Post information that you don't want your mother to see.
- Argue with people, if it is that serious, call them.
- Lie as it is permanent and people don't forget
- Be rude or call people names like Doofus
- Harass others, that is not cool
- Upload information that is not yours
But how do you use a social network? The name says it all "social network" when you are in a social environment you share, engage and help out. Be the business that uses a social network to increase the value of the environment and thereby be seen as someone of value. This will increase your ability to influence an outcome for your business. Below are some tips on what to do on a social network.
- Be genuine
- They still use a website
- Email users when it is appropriate
- Display and encourage others work
- Listen to the needs of other users
- Use hashtags for relevance
- Self-promote in a nice way
Remember T.H.I.N.K (True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind)
Follow these guidelines and reap the benefits of having your business seen in your online community through social media.