Like never before businesses can talk back; you have a voice, use it!

“Social media” is this must have phenomenon developed over the past five to ten years. For many organisations this meant setting up a Facebook page and then asking themselves well what now?

So what is social media?

Social media is any platform that allows you to contribute in a participatory culture. There are dozens of categories within social media and I guarantee you’re using at least two platforms without even realizing they are social media pages. Urbanspoon, Wikipedia, Google and WordPress are some of the top examples of unwitting social media use.

First and foremost when setting up social media you need to ask yourself what do you want to achieve? Social media is not for selling; if you encroach in people’s social media use they will disengage. Instead social media is the perfect platform for building awareness, generating relationships and coaching your prospective clients through to fulfillment by adding value to them. All social media activities should be carefully planned to increase your visibility and attract your target. Consider a traditional bus stop advertisement; the consumer is anyone who has read the sign by travelling past it.

Translate this back to social media through looking at Facebook. You post a photograph and it reaches all of your current followers (like those who regularly travel past the bus sign). If one of those followers engaged on that post by liking, commenting or sharing it, then that exposes your content to their friends. This is equivalent to someone taking all of their friends and driving them in a bus past the sign.

You know what you want to achieve but where do you achieve it in this overwhelming landscape of social media

You need to ask where is my audience? It is different for every business and working out where to be is a fundamental step. A restaurant will find review websites like Yelp and Urbanspoon highly valuable whereas a public relations firm will have no need for these but will benefit from platforms such as twitter and LinkedIn. Liken it to a billboard advertisement; it’s not a case of putting it up in any available space. Careful consideration must be made on who will see it; much like selecting where to spread social media presence.

So you’re there and your audience is there; now you ask, what should I be doing? You should be engaging, creating and adding to your social media everyday, every week, every year. Social media is constantly evolving and by constantly interacting you are increasing your ongoing visibility online and the probability of reaching a user with a need for your business.

Think about it like real estate; every time a user engages on social media they are buying a new block of land with your name on it. Eventually you will have blocks of land in every suburb and this increases the chance of a prospect with a need for your activities driving past and engaging with you instead of the competition.

You have built a presence so how does this translate to money?

Like measuring word of mouth and traditional marketing efforts, there are indications but you will never be able to measure the true value of social media activities. Through strategic use of social media you are building awareness and legitimizing your offering. What this means is that whenever a need rises, because of your previous interactions, you are top of mind and considered more favorably that a competitor.

Through social media you can share more about your business than just your main function; you share the experience, the culture and ultimately by involving people and generating connections, your business functions will increase.

The final piece of the puzzle to work out is how does this fit into a digital strategy

Let’s explore this using an example to round it off nicely. Gary wants to get a photo framed; he starts his search internally thinking of any framers he knows. This includes those he has used before, driven past, and been exposed to via advertisement or social media activities. Having an existing connection to an organisation will increase your chances of winning the customer and so enters social media. There are two scenarios; the first is that Gary has already connected to a framer on social media and the second is that he has not.

The first scenario means there are already the foundations of a relationship; he has connected with them for a reason and has been receiving continual content about their services and building an opinion on them. This connection makes their company top of mind and Gary ultimately goes to them.

The second scenario is that his internal search brings out no framers, or he is not satisfied and wants more options. Gary follows the increasing trend and starts his external search online, through Google search. He searches “framers in Perth” and through effective SEO your company website comes up first.

Gary now clicks through and begins to make assumptions about your service quality based on your website, he wants to know more and looks at your social media accounts. Here Gary finds past work, a large following, location, contact details, and useful content on framing ideas. All these efforts position this business as an authority figure in the realm of framing, legitimizes their services and generates positive leads such as Gary.

To Summarize

Social media for businesses can enhance your perception, increase your reach and generate leads. People are already talking about you online, join the conversation and make it work for your business.

Here are some quick tips for social media marketing for your business.

Image Credits: Social Media ShutterStock