Social Media: Why and How Businesses Should Use It

In my previous posts, I introduced social media, its networks and channels, how it changed the face of marketing as we know it. In this post I will entertain the idea on why and how businesses should use social media as part of their marketing planning. There are still a lot of businesses fighting social media being skeptical about its application and try to find any excuses to why not to use it.  

The most common excuses (please let me know if you hear anymore so I can add them to the list) we “social media strategists” may hear:

  1. “It is a waste of time.”
  2. “It is a fad and it will go away.”
  3. “My clients are not online.”
  4. “Only people with too much time on their hand use social media.”
  5. “We will lose control of our brand.”
  6. “Our confidentiality will be jeopardized.”
  7. “Only my children are on MySpace and Facebook.”
  8. “Our employees will have a license to play online.”

* I will start with the following figures and statistics about social media usage by the audience to show why should businesses care about social media:

  • 45% visit social networks to find out about product sales or discounts
  • 47% will go to social networks to download a free gift or coupons
  • 73% of active online users read a blog, 120,000 new blogs are launched daily
  • 22% would read or write a product review online or in a blog, 1.5 million posts per day, 45% have started their own blogs
  • 39% subscribe to an RSS feed
  • 57% joined social networks- Facebook for example has over a billion users increasing by the minute, Twitter exploded to a 1382% growth rate within 2009.
  • 10% of all internet traffic is generated by Youtube, which ranks with Wikipedia among top brands.
  • The 5 top 10 websites ever are social
  • The Internet users’ ages of 70+ jumped as follow:   70-74 Years: 26% (‘05)- 45% (‘08),   75+ Years: 17% (‘05)- 28% (‘08)

(* Sources are Compete, Alexa, MSNBC, Nielsen &Technorati)

To engage in marketing planning for any business it is important to set goals, define a strategy, then execute.   Social media is no different and it should be a part of any business’s overall marketing plan.

The first step in setting goals is for a business to ask itself the following basic questions before tackling the business profiles on the different social media networks/ platforms or channels:

  • Who is the audience and what is its persona’s characteristics?
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • Are they a part of any online communities that the business should join?
  • What do they expect from a business like yours: solution providing, a unique product, customer service?
  • How do we engage the audience emotionally and appeal to their sensitivity and senses?
  • How do we approach the audience, in what format, and with what content?  Also, most importantly what are the keywords used by the audience its members discuss your industry or business?
  • Who will be assigned to engage in the online discussions with the audience and how will they channel the leads, inquiries, comments and to who?
  • How do we to measure the results?

How might a business then proceed?

1.  Identify:

  • Your audience and key influencers and know where they hang online.
  • Protect against brand hijacking.

2.  Listen:

  • Use Google alerts, RSS feeds, Twitter, email analytics, social buzz, Backtype, Trenderr, Board Reader, then learn the proper keywords they use

3. Engage:

  • Comment on blogs and articles
  • Add to groups on Facebook/Yahoo/LinkedIn
  • Offer specials/promos on FB/Twitter

4.  Promote:

  • After establishing relationships, PULL your audience to your services by constantly adding new, relevant and fresh content.

 

Social media is interactive; it is built on communications and two way dialogs.  Using social media, your business audience may be exchanging notes about your products, companies and services at this very second —  knowing of and participating in this exchange, an exchange which may impact the bottom line, is why a business needs a social media facet as part of its overall goals and strategies.

My next post will be about how to develop the basics for a business strategy to tackle social media.

See you later –
Cheers,
Sahar Andrade
www.saharconsulting.com
www.saharconsulting.wordpress.com
www.linkedin.com/in/saharandrade
www.twitter.com/saharconsulting

Sahar Andrade

Sahar Andrade is a Marketing and Business Development expert, experienced with Fortune 500 companies, Sahar directs international campaigns. As a Social Media Certified Specialist, Sahar offers real world business experience with a straight-talk approach to solving problems covering: Cultural diversity management and awareness, and its effect on the Corporations, ROI and their marketing planning Leadership, business skills, and self development Motivation. Sahar collaborates with cultures in domestic international markets. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, and raised in Algeria and the Gulf Region, Sahar Andrade grew up appreciating and learning diverse cultures and traditions. She arrived in the US in September of 1986, with just one suitcase in hand. While in college, Sahar began to climb the “corporate ladder” as a Reservations agent. Today, Sahar is the founder of “Sahar Consulting”, Sr. VP Projects' Management and member of the Board of Directors for the International Green Summit, as well as being the Co-Founder of “Children’s Choice” a charity nonprofit organization. Living and working with different people & cultures as well as years working for International Airlines traveling all over the world left a great impact on Sahar, and help her deliver quality information on "international business etiquette" worldwide, hoping to give a few insights into how culture impacts on international business, and how is business communication impacted on by culture and how should employees and businesses interact globally to achieve success. Sahar has delivered presentations and speeches in the Middle East, Europe and the United States to corporations and educational institutions on topics such as “Effect of Cultural diversity on Business Etiquettes”, “Social Marketing”, “Cultural Awareness in the workplace”, and “Effect of Cross-Cultures on Marketing. She is also a featured columnist at "Eco-Chamber" website, as well as being a contributor at "the bloggers Bulletin: Blog Zone". http://www.ecochamber.com/category/columnists/sahar-andrade-columnists/ http://www.thebloggersbulletin.org/saharandrade Sahar gave presentations at the City of West Hollywood 3rd Annual Women Leadership Conference March of 2009, where she presented a "Motivational Workshop": MotivateU. Additionally she spoke at the "Entrepreneurs' Seminar" on the benefits of Inbound Marketing, presented a seminar about self branding to NOW Hollywood and NCJW, as well as presenting 2 other seminars to LAAMA about social media & Twitter. She was also a guest on BlogTalkRadio presenting “How Cultural Diversity affects Marketing” http://www.blogtalkradio.com/LaunchNotes/2009/08/26/Sahar-Andrade-Sahar-Consulting Sahar’s credentials include BS in Psychiatry from the Cairo University of Medicine, Certification from Cema as a certified E-marketeer, an IM certificate as an Inbound Marketing certified specialist, and is a certified Diversity trainer. Email: sahar@saharconsulting.com www.saharconsulting.com 

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  2 comments for “Social Media: Why and How Businesses Should Use It

  1. January 11, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Sahar,

    Again…congrats! You’ve got the point… Although, what about talking about real examples? I think we (“the socializers”) all talk a lot about “howto” and “whatis”, but it’s time to go a step further and show “samples”, “examples” and “achievements”. It’s not a bad critic, but an opportunity to improve and engage

    Hope it makes sense

    Best,

    Israel G

  2. January 12, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Israel:
    Thank you for your comments, I am posting a series of posts with a certain strategy in my mind building a momentum from starting with what is SM to start with, to the point what are its components, what is the new marketing era, to SM for companies, to how to strategize.
    Having examples is a great idea, do you have any that you can share with us? That would be a good post, as I am still finishing my series for now =)
    Cheers,
    Sahar

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