Change. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s scary and we will resist it with everything we have. But change is also inevitable and necessary. Even though it’s now been around for years, there are many businesses who have yet to adopt a social media presence in any capacity because they haven’t gotten to grips with it. ‘It’s not relevant to my business’, ‘Isn’t it just for fun brands?’, ‘It’s all a bit informal’, ‘What does this button do?’ We’ve heard a great deal of grievances, reasons, excuses etc as to why businesses aren’t adopting it but social media is here to stay and it has become a vital part of the marketing arsenal – change CAN be scary, but you ignore this change at your peril.
You’re undoubtedly aware of social media. You can barely go a few minutes without someone tweeting, posting, selfie-ing or saying ‘Have you seen this new app?’ Social media is less of a phenomenon now and more part of our daily lives. But what are they and how do businesses use them?
I’m not going to go into TOO much detail on what it is as this would most definitely be the first stage in your research if you’re unaware (and if that’s the case, you seriously need to stop living under that rock). What I’ll do is explain the basics, the importance to business and why you should be using it before going onto the bulk of this document – the absolute beginners guide to social media.
So, let’s start with the basics. Distil marketing down into its most basic form – it’s the who, what, when, where, why and how you get your product or service into the consumers’ lives and keep it there. Social media is a tool that can assist in doing this and due to its inherent conversational nature; it’s great for managing your brand and building a community around your offering.
WHO IS ON IT? – A huge proportion of the global population are active on it meaning that regardless of your target market, they WILL be represented somewhere (we’ll come onto the ‘somewhere’ later).
WHAT IS IT? – Imagine a large building full of everyone you know and every person is carrying a rucksack – this rucksack is filled with every photo they’ve ever taken, every thought they’ve had, everything they’ve read/seen/heard/wanted etc – it’s everything that makes them, them. In this building you can walk the corridors, chat to people on the way, explore different rooms where people who like the same things have come to chat about what they enjoy, you can sit at the table in the corner with a coffee and just people-watch, you can share with them what’s in your rucksack and they’ll share what’s in theirs – perhaps you’ll discover something! But this building and these people are not static either – the building is constantly adding floors and rooms and the people are constantly adding to their rucksack and most importantly, they never stop moving.
WHEN IS IT USED? It’s 24hours a day, 7 days a week. If your business was a shop, consumers would be able to walk in at any time, ask you a question, complain or browse.
WHERE? – This can be taken from two perspectives – there are a number of different social networks, each with a wide range of demographics in usership, each with a different purpose or unique element to it e.g. LinkedIn is the professional network vs. Pinterest – the social bookmarking visual network. The second perspective is that your consumers can access it anywhere, anytime.
WHY? – It’s all about sharing and communicating – there are basic psychological/sociological aspects at work here – we share things that we think will increase our value to our peer group and if you’re active on social media, chances are you crave communication – you’re only human after all.
HOW IS IT USED? – This is a mix of all of the above and we’ll now go into how a business should use it.
I always like to add a caveat here – social media is by no means a complete solution and though signing up and running it is free, there is an opportunity cost to everything and if not utilised properly, you could be wasting time (and money) on an ineffective strategy. Social media is just another tool for your marketing strategy and should complement and integrate seamlessly with your other activities.
I think one of the best bits of advice I can give you in this blog is to take a look at this article and infographic (http://www.jeffbullas.com/2014/01/17/20-social-media-facts-and-statistics-you-should-know-in-2014/). It’s packed full of information in a nice visual way that will hopefully help you to fully appreciate why your business needs to be on social media.
For the sake of anonymity and respect to our client’ and indeed our own competitive strategy, examples used in this series don’t come from Soaring Worldwide’s clients