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:
- “It is a waste of time.”
- “It is a fad and it will go away.”
- “My clients are not online.”
- “Only people with too much time on their hand use social media.”
- “We will lose control of our brand.”
- “Our confidentiality will be jeopardized.”
- “Only my children are on MySpace and Facebook.”
- “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?
- Your audience and key influencers and know where they hang online.
- Protect against brand hijacking.
- Use Google alerts, RSS feeds, Twitter, email analytics, social buzz, Backtype, Trenderr, Board Reader, then learn the proper keywords they use
- Comment on blogs and articles
- Add to groups on Facebook/Yahoo/LinkedIn
- Offer specials/promos on FB/Twitter
- 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.