When 98% of all online activity in the country involves social media, brands and businesses should have more than mere presence. As a channel, it offers unprecedented intelligent reach to real consumers, on platforms they already use.
For small to medium business owners, the commitment to investing hard-earned money on social media might be hard to find. However, considering how pervasive it is in a customer’s journey – from search (intent to buy/use) to engagement (relationship and affinity) – social media may well be a business owner’s best friend.
Generally speaking, there are five ways to use social media and maximize it for a budding business:
Listening & Observation
Nothing beats ‘listening’ to actual consumers and customers talk about your brand or product. Pro-actively searching out your brand name through hashtags (or even the actual brand name, or even your product category) on social media can already give you a powerful marketing weapon: real, unadulterated consumer sentiments, as well on-context social conversations. How you use that subjective data is up to you, but it’s great for a snapshot of “What do people say about me?”
We already know that negative comments should be managed as much as possible. How about positive ones? Nearly half of consumers online want positive comments responded to. Acknowledging these happy moments help create valuable conversation loops with people (building both loyalty and advocacy), using social media to be ‘truly social’ – and not just as a broadcast medium for content.
We are slowly-but-surely shifting from editorial calendars as far as social content goes, into realms of ‘relevant moments’. What moments or occasions are relevant to your brand? Which ones are relevant for your communities, especially niche ones? Which special occasions do you want to own? The best businesses don’t use a machine-gun approach to content – they act like snipers, going in for the kill at the right time, with the right bullet (content), under the right situations or contexts.
Drive to X, Y, or Z
I would like to argue that social media assets shouldn’t be under “owned” media; technically, you can’t own it, but rent it. In that line of thought, use your social media assets to drive consumers to another location – a website, your main digital presence, should be top of mind here. Consumers are on social media, yes. That means you can use social engagement to direct conversations to where you want them to go.
Insights and Research
Unlike other marketing media, social has the massive advantage of having potentially the richest insights and data. I for one cannot imagine how billboard data is accurately measured, for one. Social media marketing allows you to gather details like never before, from consumer locations to the schools they attended. This micro-targeting is a great online research tool, which may even positively affect your offline efforts!