More and more companies understand the need to be present at social media but not many of them do social media properly and effectively. Why? Because in order to succeed in social media we can no longer treat it as yet another communication channel. It can’t be a random activity. It should be aligned with the overall strategy. Many companies take up SM but have no idea what for and what they will do there. Then it’s like “teen sex” – Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise it’s not better.”
As indicated in groundswell SM is mainly used for research (listening), marketing (talking), sales (energizing), support (supporting) or development (embracing). People try to achieve this by establishing and maintaining relationships, triggering interaction or reinforcing the existing ties at the same time reducing the operation cost of the company. We can’t forget that SM can only boost the already existing marketing strategy and should be treated like part of something bigger. It’s essential that it is in line with the whole company image and its messages are consistent with the company culture and mission.
The new phenomenon
Marketers realized that there’s no escape from social media since Facebook is the most often visited site in the US with its (already over) 400 million users and still growing. What is more, 80% of social media users in the US think companies should have their profiles on SM. SeeWhy found out that only 2% of the (US-based) marketers don’t treat Facebook seriously. This is the impact we can’t ignore. Instead of going shopping and watching TV more people spend time online socializing. It also influences the way consumers communicate with companies. They are more willing to interact, to comment on the products, give valuable feedback and openly inform the companies about their expectations. Companies believe that those who keep up to date with what users look for online have the competitive edge.
We already know that social platforms serve many purposes. The most important questions today are: Who do you want to address? And what do you want to achieve. We tend to use SM for:
Acquiring new customers and maintaining relationship with the existing ones by improving customer service and product development
Recruiting new staff and networking with applicants
Improving communication, by making it more direct, quick, up to date and cheaper
Following the competition more easily
Crowdsourcing, checking what people like via “like” button or reading comments on the product, getting instant access to opinions about the products and services, making market research easier and cheaper
Advertising campaigns can be more targeted and thus bring more results
Word of mouth, viral marketing
Improving customer and after-sales service, especially Twitter used by service-focussed companies
Organizing and promoting events
Building consumer loyalty by engaging them in conversations and providing valuable source of relevant information, etc.
Nothing happens overnight, you need a strategy
Despite many benefits of social media still many companies fail to take advantage of its full potential. Many of them experiment, try to use all possible channels, blindly following trends. Not all SM channels will be profitable for us. You can’t simply attach SM activity to your existing strategy. Everything should fit together. We must also realize that having a company Facebook account and collecting fans won’t immediately increase your sales overnight. It all takes time. More importantly, you will need a strategy! Without a clear strategy sooner or later you will consider social media as a waste of money, time and energy. You need to know who you want to target and what you want to achieve with them. Without this foundation it’s not going to work.Looking back into your teen past, most probaly you also had a target person in mind, you knew your goal but had no strategy. And then…huge disappointment. Honestly, the rules haven’t changed since then!
Thanks to @Petersopinion for some thoughts.