Social media has helped businesses by opening up communication between companies and their customers, offering real time feedback and insights into what consumers want. But too often, business are too busy counting likes and retweets instead of going after real, measurable results that justify spending marketing time and money on social media. Stop chasing fans and focus on these benefits to successfully use social media as a tool in your digital marketing strategy.
Reach New Customers
75 percent of Americans have at least one social media profile. Open the door to social media and your business can tap into a thriving market of active, engaged consumers. A recent study by Forrester and Wildfire asserts that customers who engage with your brand on social media are more likely to prefer your brand and recommend your services. Consumers that reach you through social media are almost twice as likely to purchase your products and services as a consumer who does not. “Social” consumers are motivated and actively searching for products like yours. Find your customers where they’re already looking for you by maintaining business pages on major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest.
Drive Traffic to Your Owned Media and Points of Sale
When your customers look for your brand or business services, the first place they go is Google. Established, trusted brands rank higher in search engine results. Major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter show up near the top of Google searches, so having accurate and updated profiles on social media can give you a boost in SEO and give your customer multiple avenues to find information about your products. Use your social media profiles to peak your customers’ interest and drive them to your point of sale, whether that’s a phone call, website or store visit.
Get Your Message Out. It’s Free!
So you have a Facebook profile and a Twitter handle. Now what? To keep consumers coming to your profiles and continuing to your points of sale, you need to give them a reason to engage with you. Can they get information on your services? Can they get help with a problem? Can they win your products? Social media profiles provide a free place for your business to publish branded content. Commercials, blog posts, contests and behind the scenes looks at your company can all be shared with consumers that are clamoring for information about you. An Infosys study found that 89 percent of customers who interacted with a brand on social media were influenced by that interaction when making a purchase. Whether you’re investing in traditional advertising or not, you should still post new, original content to your social media platforms. Make your content do double duty: reach a large, motivated portion of your target audience to create brand awareness and drive traffic to your points of sale.
Support Your Brand
Social media acts like an autobiography for people and for businesses. Your business profiles give people a window into your company. Remember, these consumers want to engage and find new information. They research before making a purchase and they want to know who they’re buying from. Showcase your company’s culture, values and personality to motivate customers to choose your products over the competition.
Google’s Wildfire released a statement that more than 50 percent of consumers check out brands on social media to stay in touch with sales and company happenings. Keep your profiles updated with brand-related information to encourage brand loyalty and repeat purchases.
Set the Standard for Customer Service
Consumers used to call or email your business when they had a problem. Now they tweet you or tag you in a status. Since everyone can see every complaint your company receives on social media, timely and thorough customer service is vital. Almost half of social media users expect a response to their complaints within 60 minutes says Edison Research, and if their problem isn’t solved you can bet they’ll take to social media to tell the world about it.
Use real-time customer feedback to set your company as the standard in customer service. Prove to your customers that your take their concerns seriously and make an honest effort to fix them. Respond to complaints sincerely and politely over social media and then send an email, call or direct message to solve the complainant’s problem. Depending on the social media platform, Chipotle Mexican Grill answers complaints and even compliments within thirty minutes to an hour. This commitment has been rewarded with customer loyalty and millions of dollars in repeat business.
Conducting Real Time Product Research
Customer to customer interaction, or “word of mouth”, remains one of the oldest and most effective ways of advertising. Consumers often trust friends, family and even strangers over a corporate company message. In a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, 90 percent of customers admitted to basing purchase decisions on online reviews.
The problem word of mouth poses for your business is that you have no control over what’s being said. This is still true for customer to customer interactions over social media. But by creating a place where customers can interact with your business as well as each other, you can get valuable customer feedback. You can quickly see if many people are having the same problem, or if a majority of customers like some of your products more than others. Your access to this information, previously only accessible through focus groups, allows you to make changes or disclose information to maintain healthy, long-lasting relationships with your customers and assuage concerns. Keep an eye on comments on your social media profiles and hashtags that relate to your company to better tailor your products and services to meet your customers’ needs.
Remember: Social media isn’t a strategy, it’s a tool. Without a strategy based on measurable marketing goals, your social media efforts aren’t getting you anywhere. Keep these benefits in mind when posting to social media, and make this powerful online marketing tool a profitable part of your business.
How is your social media strategy working for you? Let us know in the comments below how you engage customers on your business’ social media profiles.
Check out more ways to work the web your advantage on our blog. Good luck out there web warriors!
Anne LaPlante is a copywriter at Catapult Creative Media. A graduate of LSU with a degree in advertising, she spends most of her free time posting pictures of her dogs and cats to Instagram.
Catapult Creative Media Inc. is a full service digital marketing and design agency serving south Louisiana and headquartered in Baton Rouge. Founded in 2007, Catapult provides digital, social and mobile marketing solutions backed by relevant strategy and measurable results. Catapult works the web to their clients’ advantage, launching them to their next level of success.