Of all the technological developments to be born in the first decade and a half of this century, it can be argued that the one to have the largest impact on business is the social platform. Like them or not, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have once again transformed the way that people communicate, and in the process, have changed the way that businesses conduct commerce, handle public and consumer relations, and promote brand identity.
For businesses small and large alike, social media has required a sea shift in the way that they interact with consumers and the public. It also has brought brand reputation – a facet of business that up until recently was likely of minimal concern; simply ignore all of those angry letters and the problem will go away – to the forefront of a company’s considerations. Complaints are suddenly very real and very conspicuous, and businesses ignore them at their own risk.
It is important for businesses to remember that social media enables two-way communication. It is the one marketing platform that allows the consumer to respond. Companies still struggling to come to terms with how best to use social media to their advantage can learn much from campaigns that work – and those that don’t.
What Works and What Doesn’t
Perhaps more importantly than anything, when it comes to social media marketing, businesses must realize that that there is no one-size-fits-all solution; every single social media marketing campaign must be personalized and unique – unique to the company’s needs and to the audience. If a company fails to appreciate this fact, their online approach is destined to fail. Only by tailoring an online marketing campaign to the prospective audience can a business take best advantage of the platforms.
To expound on this further, and with perhaps more specificity, companies are well advised to not carpet bomb their online profiles with promotions, branding, discounts and coupons, and industry news, while being blind to what their customers are asking for. Businesses that succeed on social media stay connected, spreading the responsibility of outreach amongst a team of individuals, so that multiple perspectives, view points, and opinions – all aligned to the corporate identity, of course – can be represented.
In fact, many businesses with a large online presence employ a whole team of social media experts. At these individuals’ disposal are business cell phones, tablets, and laptops – all tools which enable them to stay engaged with their audience in real time (and made increasingly possible due to businesses like T-Mobile allowing free and affordable data plans for businesses). That is the key with social media, ultimately. Companies mustengage with the audience, or the audience will flock.
Heading Off Into the Great Unknown
If your business is taking its first initial steps into the social media world, take a deep breath and remain calm. It doesn’t have to be the wild untamed West if you simply stay engaged, keep an eye on (and ear to) your customers, and participate. If you’re unsure of where to start, consider trying to take advantage of trending topics and keywords. If you do so in a manner that is natural and intuitive, it can greatly increase brand exposure and awareness, and in the process, earn you some followers.
As alluded to earlier, however, success on social media platforms ultimately comes down to doing what feels right for your business. Don’t feel beholden to trends or the use of hashtags if it isn’t a good match for your corporate identity or target market. Tailor your approach to your audience, stay true to your voice, and focus not on the quantity of your followers but the quality, and you’re sure to achieve success.
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