Find out why it’s good to share – and how to help your business shine on Social Media.
Friday, February 12th, 2016
There’s Plenty to ‘Like’ with our seven reasons for businesses to get sharing on social
Welcome to Part 3 of our essential business guide to PESO – helping you effectively reach new and existing customers via Paid media, Earned media Shared/Social media and Owned media. This section focuses on social media
SOCIAL media is the way that billions of ordinary people choose to communicate every day. With friends, family – and yes, sometimes with businesses.
There are some great reasons for business to be on social media, but there is also a fair amount of hype, misinformation and misunderstanding about what is and isn’t possible.
That’s why you need trusted experts to help guide you through the business benefits as well as the potential pitfalls – and to explain how Shared/Social media can be a powerful part of the PESO communications model.
Below we give seven major reasons why businesses should embrace social media. But first it’s important
With that in mind, the first thing to say about social media is that you cannot go in to it expecting a huge sales increase.
BEWARE MAGIC BULLETS AND SALES MIRACLES
For a while social media felt like a gold rush, with businesses flocking to set up profiles in the belief there were easy riches to be had. The reality? Don’t expect an immediate – or even a significant – improvement in your sales.
A growing body of research suggests that social media is actually limited in its effectiveness as a sales tool. Like the study from highly respected Forrester Research which said “social tactics are not a meaningful sales driver” with a “barely negligible” impact on online sales. Or these findings from IBM which showed that social shopping referrals accounted for less than half of one per cent on the biggest shopping day of the year.
Even the world’s best known brand, Coca Cola, has come out and said that building social buzz does not help boost sales. Something its rival Pepsi could attest to after it diverted tens of millions of pounds away from traditional advertising and into social media – only to lose 5% of market share.
None of this should really be surprising, since nobody ever signed up for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or the like so that they could be bombarded with sales messages, any more than they bought a mobile telephone to receive unsolicited cold calls.
So if social media won’t immediately help increase sales for your business, then what is it good for? There are many great reasons for your business to be on social media.
1 – CAREFULLY TARGETED SUCCESS
Rather than looking for a sales miracle, social media can be a great way for businesses to successfully promote specific events, such as sales, deals or offers. This can be particularly effective in reaching the people who genuinely are most interested – the kind of loyal, repeat customers who have taken time the to Follow or Like you online.
For example, we worked with the renowned Edinburgh restaurant Vittoria to transform one of its quietest nights into a buzzing success story, during a short and targeted social media campaign.
By focusing on Twitter and Facebook users we were able to offer a special voucher code which those users could redeem for a two-for-one deal on main courses – and ‘Tony’s Tuesdays’ became an instant hit, bringing in 475 additional covers over a short campaign period and earning a coveted PR accolade.
Examples of businesses built from scratch via social media are rare (verging on non-existent). But there are countless examples where businesses have used social media cleverly and effectively for smaller business wins.
2 – ADD VALUE FOR USERS
Some companies will be able to shift more products and sell more services thanks to social media.
However it won’t be through pushy sales tactics. It’ll most likely happen in the way that businesses have built success for hundreds of years – slowly and by being helpful, informative, entertaining and adding value.
Social media is an ideal way to share your own useful information that helps customers to make well-informed decisions. That can include How To guides, video tutorials, layman friendly explanations of changes in legislation, or testimonials and reviews.
Your clients and customers have a huge number of pain points, worries, fears, uncertainties and doubts. So a long term commitment to sharing information on social media which assuages those concerns will win you friends. For more on this, see our separate post on Owned Media.
This is part of the ‘social’ in social media. While the potential client may not want to be your best pal, they’d like to know they can get trustworthy and reliable guidance and advice from you when they need it.
3 – TURN YOUR PEOPLE INTO AMBASSADORS
In the heady, early days of social media everyone insisted businesses should be “part of the conversation”. Most credible social media specialists have now quietly dropped that assertion.
They’ve realised that normal people want to discuss politics, football, popular culture, breaking news stories and celebrities. What they emphatically don’t want is to have conversations with toothpaste makers, egg packagers, carpet sellers, car part suppliers – or PR agencies.
However, encouraging your staff to be on social media can be a powerful way to remind your customers (and potential new customers) that you are not a faceless organisation, but actually a group of real people, much like them.
Not all of your staff will want to be active on social media, but the most passionate among them will. Providing them with basic training and letting them know you trust them to behave the right way can be hugely motivating.
What’s more, each of those employees will have their own network of friends, contacts and acquaintances. Every time they share your news and updates to their network, there is a chance of your business message being amplified and shared further.
4 – CUSTOMER SERVICE
Having your people paying attention on social media is another way of finding out when customers are talking about you – good or bad.
Indeed, most major businesses already recognise that social media is the ideal tool for customer service. Most notably it tends to be is the first people where clients and customers will complain when they are not happy.
Some businesses are terrified of that possibility. Why? Do they think that if they pretend people aren’t complaining on social media, then those customer moans will simply disappear?
In fact, being able to monitor what customers are saying about your business – in real time – is hugely beneficial. It lets you identify problems and gremlins when they are small and easier to fix.
What’s the value to your business of resolving an issue that affects 10 customers, before it gets big enough to affect 1000?
5 – INSIGHT INTO WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS REALLY THINK
We’re all guilty of making assumptions about our customers and what we think they like or what we think they want.
Well, social media can give far greater insight. Because people don’t simply use social media to complain about brands.
They actually use social media like a modern day pub or watercooler – a space where they exchange chat and gossip with like minded people. And that’s where you can learn so much more about them.
Social media is brilliant for people who want to share reviews of products they’ve tried, services they have experienced or which establishments they’re visiting. Anyone running a pub or restaurant knows only too well that positive buzz on social media brings in customers.
Unless you’re business is on social media and paying attention, you won’t know about these opportunities – the chance to promote the Tweet from a happy customer or to amplify the positive Facebook post from a satisfied client.
What’s more by learning and using social media more effectively, you can also monitor what rivals are doing, spot trends at an earlier stage and find success stories from other parts of the world that you can replicate in your area.
6 – MAKE FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
By becoming an authoritative voice in your sector and by adding value over the long term, you are likely to earn greater influence.
That means your posts are more likely to be picked up and shared by others and to be held up as coming from a trustworthy company that others recommend doing business with.
As well as becoming influential in your own right, this also helps you build the kind of social capital that means you are more likely to be championed by other “influencers” – people with large followings who can help put you on the radar of many new potential customers.
We’ve already said that sharing content that informs, educates and entertains will help you make friends. Turns out it can help you influence people too.
7 – UNDERSTAND THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS
Back in the year 2000 there were only around 17 million websites across the world, yet many business people scoffed at the idea of being on the worldwide web.
Now there are a billion websites, trillions of web pages and more content than anyone could ever need or want – yet virtually no serious business would dream of operating without a website.
Quite simply a website has become one of the standards of doing business. Having a website is now table stakes – the minimum expectation among potential customers.
If nothing else is likely to convince you about the need for Shared/Social media then ponder this: social media is rapidly becoming the minimum cost of doing business.
Increasingly web-savvy customers won’t consider buying from companies that don’t exist on social media any more than they will do business with a company which doesn’t have a website.
The truth is that in the innumerable interactions that take place on social media every day, the chances are the conversation will rarely be about your brand, your services and your products.
But when the conversation *does* turn to your area of expertise, it is important that you are there too – and can show you’ve been there for the long haul and have proven you know what you are talking about.
This is Part 3 of our Essential Business Guide to Harnessing PESO. Demonstrating how businesses can harness the power of PESO to maximise business success. Read the rest of our guide.
Work with a public relations agency that can help you to shine by sharing the right stuff on social media
The team at Holyrood PR would love the chance to hear about the challenges facing your business and to outline some of the ways to overcome them with our public relations services, including social media strategies.
You can contact us at any time on 0131 561 2244 or fill out the simple form, below, and we’ll get straight back to you
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