Social Media - Does Business Need It?

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We are indeed social creatures and social media has undoubtedly proven that concept but I want to go one step further by stating that businesses are also social by nature. This makes sense when you think that business is a human endeavour and is set up for people to trade goods and services to other people. Social behaviour is at the core of every business and it is this element that drives business to success or failure.

To take this concept one step further it also makes sense that business would do exceptionally well on social media. So why, in this digital age is there still a reluctance for many businesses to embraced social media? Or, why haven’t businesses quite worked out how to use this new and relatively cheap medium to their best advantage?

This article investigates these two issues and compare the negative and positive arguments relating to social media.

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Social Media - Does Business Need It?

  1. 1. bount yvirt ualsupport .com http://www.bountyvirtualsupport.com/social-media-does-business-need-it/ Social Media – Does Business Need It? The recent growth and acceptance of social media has been phenomenal and show no signs of slowing down. In f act social media is still growing at an exponential rate and has in many ways transf ormed the way we meet and connect with people, gather inf ormation, and even do business. Old industries become obsolete and new industries spring up and nowhere is this more prevalent than the internet and the opportunities are massive. In many ways the world has become a smaller place where communication and ideas are almost instantaneous across traditional state borders. We are indeed social creatures and social media has undoubtedly proven that concept but I want to go one step f urther by stating that businesses are also social by nature. This makes sense when you think that business is a human endeavour and is set up f or people to trade goods and services to other people. Social behaviour is at the core of every business and it is this element that drives business to success or f ailure. To take this concept one step f urther it also makes sense that business would do exceptionally well on social media. So why, in this digital age is there still a reluctance f or many businesses to embraced social media? Or, why haven’t businesses quite worked out how to use this new and relatively cheap medium to their best advantage? Today, I want to investigate these two issues and compare the negative and positive arguments relating to social media. Reasons Why Some Businesses are not utilising Social Media 1. Their industry doesn’t suit social media
  2. 2. Really? Society is interested in you otherwise you wouldn’t be in business. The trick is to research where your target market is and connect with them there. 2. Worried about bad press and reviews People will talk about you regardless so why not be there to catch and deal with negative conversations or even prevent them f rom occurring. If your business is ethical and your goods and services are f antastic then negativity would be minimal. 3. Can’t see the importance The importance lies in the f act that around 90% of western internet populations are connected to social media. Social media started of f as a place f or young people, students and hipsters to gather and connect. Now the demographic has changed with all ages, socio economic groups and businesses now connected with each other. 4. Takes up too much time Yes, social media does take time to get established, attract and keep a loyal audience. The decision and commitment to set up a social media program is a long term investment and is about developing and building strong business relationships with consumers and peers. A clear company policy and strategy will help with ef f iciency. 5. Too expensive Social media platf orms are f ree to join and use but the expense lies in the time spent working and hiring staf f and/or contractors that would be dedicated to your social media presence. Costs can be kept to a minimum by developing clear business goals and a strategy bef ore hiring anyone to take care of your social media needs. The only time it becomes expensive is when a business doesn’t have any clear goals or plans set out. 6. No immediate or measurable ROI Unlike traditional processes where you advertise on TV or print media that result in an immediate spike in sales, social media is a long term endeavour. You can advertise on social media like Facebook but the real reason f or being there is f or relationship building, engaging and reaching out to your existing and potential connections. Social media is a place f or your business to develop consumer and industry trust, loyalty, accessibility and transparency. It is also an excellent place f or developing your business personality and brand. 7. We can’t “control” it No, can’t control social media and you can’t really control other types of media either. You should already have risk management policies in place when it comes to consumer complaints, bad press and corporate guf f ’s. The same applies to social media and developing a risk management policy will help to minimise any possible negativity. Just remember, people are going to talk about you regardless so you may as well be there to counteract and minimise any potential damage. 8. It’s a fad As mentioned above, human beings are social creatures so it stands to reason that social media has been a huge success and too many people have made spectacular f ortunes f or it to f izzle out. Companies and platf orms may come and go, technology advances will change how we social media landscape but the social aspect is here to stay. Unless of course evolution cuts the social instinct out of our being. 9. It’s not where our customers are
  3. 3. This argument may have true 5 years ago but not today and def initely not into the f uture. On a personal note, my mother (late 60s) is f eeling lef t out of the loop by not being on Facebook yet. The reason is because all of her elderly f riends in her quilting group have and use their Facebook accounts. The point here is that if you are basing your assumptions on the f acts of f ive years ago, you need to update your review. 10. We’ll just stick with PR and advertising Advertising and PR do work very well and will continue to do so in the f oreseeable f uture. Social media is not an alternative to your existing marketing programs but an additional tool with very dif f erent roles and results. 11. Our market is local or has a limited geography Your local market is currently using social media to communicate and gather inf ormation. Social media platf orms such as FourSquare cater specif ically to local places. It’s a place where local consumers can f ind you, give reviews of your products and services and research reviews already given. Social media is a place where you can quickly and cheaply announce daily specials, and local news with your customers. The f ollowing video is about a butcher shop doing very well using Facebook as part of their marketing program. 12. It’s a clash with our culture Firstly, social media is a global phenomenon that encompasses all cultures, religions, languages and personalities. If you f eel that your business is not suited to social media then take a look at how Liberty Tax rocks Facebook: https://www.f acebook.com/libertytax. Community services that cater to sensitive issues such domestic violence are also using Facebook to help create community awareness: https://www.f acebook.com/Domesticviolencesupport. 13. I don’t have anything to say Social media f or business is about having a plan that can be written up months in advance. Try these f ew ideas: Answering consumer questions Ask people what they want to know about you Tie in questions and conversation around your other marketing campaigns If you have a blog, ask f or opinions and ideas f or the topic you are writing about. Talk about your staf f and what they do 1. I am concerned about privacy and data security You should already have a data security risk management policy in place that all staf f members should be working with. Security is a very real risk and setting up protocols f or all of your electronic activities will help to minimize those risks. Privacy is also an issue that needs to be addressed within a social media policy that should cover what is and isn’t suitable to make public. I will go out on a limb here and state that every excuse imagined is in reality a cover f or the f ear of change and a f ear of the unknown. Fear is one of our most powerf ul emotions and we are very good at hiding it. Our culture is based on a show of strength so if we are experiencing f ear it is instinctive to hide it and excuses are a successf ul mechanism to protect our vulnerabilities. Facing our f ears and gaining knowledge is the only way to conquer that emotion.
  4. 4. Reasons why business need and do engage on social media Check out this well produced video which highlights the positive ef f ects social media can have on your business. 1. It’s inexpensive Well, that depends on how much time and resources you allocate to your social media program. It also depends on whether you have a time ef f icient strategy in place. 2. It’s here to stay Telephones are probably the most primitive technology social communication and look at where that little invention has gone. Social media is an extension of the telephone so even though social media companies will come and go, the concept is here f or as long as we have the internet. If you are still not convinced of the longevity of social media, then check out the numbers in this inf ographics.
  5. 5. Infographic by- GO-Gulf.com 3. It’s a permanent form of advertising Traditional f orms of advertising last as long as a TV commercial or a magazine issue. The content on your social media accounts is permanent. 4. It’s where your peers, customers and competition are interacting. If your plans are to get more exposure to the right people, it makes sense to have a presence where ever your target market is. 5. Good publicity With a bit of planning and research you can narrow your f ocus and publicise your business to your target market. That said, social media also gives you the opportunity to reach a global audience. 6. It helps you make more sales Social media isn’t really great f or making immediate sales but it does help in the buying cycle. It is used f or creating awareness, exposure and relationship building which all add to the strength and sales capabilities of your business. 7. Great for customer service Social media is a place where you can engage and resolve problems in real time. Most common issues that consumers have with your business can be published on social media so all your customers have access to solutions. It is also a great place f or your customers to ask questions, voice concerns and help one another.
  6. 6. 8. Engage with clients Social media is very successf ul if you personally engage with your audience. Have conversations with them, answer questions, clear up any conf usion and inf orm them of any changes in your company or industry. 9. Research your clients’ needs Social media is also one of the best places f or monitoring and listening to conversations and attitudes of your target market. People talk about their experiences, likes and dislikes and everyday lif e with their f riends and f amily on social media. With a quick search within a social media platf orm like Facebook or especially Twitter, you can easily keep your f inger on the pulse in real time. 10. Learn what people are saying about you People are talking about you and social media is a great place to f ind out what they are saying, their opinions and who’s inf luencing them. Social media is arguably the f astest way to f ind out what people are talking about. 11. Create buzz for events & campaigns Your social media accounts are an extension of your business and has a potential global reach. Well planned promotion of upcoming events and campaigns will create a buzz with your audience. Social media allows your audience to share any inf ormation they f ind usef ul to their own f riends, f amily and acquaintances. The power of social media is the ability f or your audience to easily and quickly provide a word of mouth service and we all know how powerf ul that is f or business growth. 12. Increase brand exposure You can create the personality of your brand and expose it to a much wider audience at a signif icantly lower cost than doing it via television and print media. 13. Identify and recruit influencers to spread your message Here is where social media is really clever. Inf luencers in the social sphere are popular and in most cases trusted members within their social communities. By identif ying and engaging with those inf luencers will usually result in them spreading the word about your company in a positive light. Make sure that you are aware of social media etiquette as mistakes and ignorance could be costly. I will got into social media etiquette in a f uture post. 14. Find new opportunities and customers Search f or consumers that are seeking answers to questions that you can answer. Reach out to new markets that you weren’t able to reach prior to social media. 15. Support your products and services Don’t stop at supporting your own products and services. Social media is an excellent place f or f orming strategic business alliances by helping other businesses that compliment your own. It’s also an excellent space to create good stewardship f or your industry. 16. Improve your search engine visibility If you have a website, link your social media accounts to your website to help with SEO and consumers wanting more inf ormation about your business. 17. Get your message out fast Updates and announcements made on social media are instant and a cost ef f ective way to
  7. 7. broadcast your message. 18. Retain clients by establishing a personal relationship Client retention and loyalty comes with great products and services, but it doesn’t stop there. Social media allows companies to develop personal relationships and trust with their clients. It takes time and planning but the long term benef its are massive. Not only will you have repeat business, you will also have a strong word of mouth and ref erral program which is the most powerf ul way to get new business. 19. Be an industry leader – not a follower Social media has become a main stream f orm of communication with f riends and f amily but it is still a relatively new concept f or business. Being active on social media can give you an edge over your competitors who are slow to embrace this new technology. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Are you going to jump on board or are you going to be lef t behind. One thing we do know is that businesses who don’t stay current with technology and consumer trends become obsolete. Have I missed out on anything? Please leave your ideas in the comments below and share this post within your social media accounts. Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25001294@N00/6254673402/ 8 Reasons Why Social Media Is Not For Your Business #socialmedia #Halif ax: http://alphasocialmediainc.com/8-reasons-why-social-media-is-not-for-your-business-socialmedia- halifax/ Social Media – Why Your Business Needs Social Media in 2013: http://ariadpartners.com/social-media-for-business/ 5 Reasons why every business needs to embrace social media: http://blog.deepbluesky.com/blog/-/5- reasons-why-every-business-needs-to-embrace-social-media_69/ 7 Reasons NOT to Engage in Social Media: http://janetfouts.com/7-reasons-not-to-engage-in-social- media/

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