Almost every business has jumped on the social media marketing bandwagon, with a view that it can be used as a free way to advertise, promote and attract new customers. And it’s hardly surprising why, when there’s 556 million daily users on Facebook alone, all waiting like sitting ducks to devour your latest brand news…yeah, right!
Unfortunately, there is no ‘magic button’ when it comes to social media
When I first got into social media marketing, I naively thought the same thing. But the reality is a lot harder. The problem is, we tend to overlook the very obvious: social media sites are personal. They are used to connect a single individual with their family and friends, who may live far apart or even on the other side of the world.
The everyday social media user hates ‘brand-spamming’
Facebook users in particular, hate brands on Facebook. You’re wrong! I hear you cry - there are loads of popular brands who get hundreds of shares every day!
Yes, there are popular and successful businesses who have ‘cracked’ Facebook and become extremely popular and influential. Some of the all-time most successful brands on Facebook include Coca-Cola, Nike, YouTube, Red Bull, Converse and Starbucks Coffee.
But guess what?
You’re not them. And you are going to be hard-pushed to replicate that kind of success if you’re not already a recognised brand. Chances are you won’t even come close.
Those brands are successful because they have become ingrained within today’s culture and have evolved to represent more than just a product.
Oh. So where does that leave us?
Unfortunately, most of us sit in that high percentage of unrecognised and ‘uncool’ brands that most people just do not care that much about. Of course, all businesses have their own set of consumers and audiences, but even they’re going to need a good reason to follow you on social media.
For example, we all repeatedly buy toothpaste on a regular basis, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we all follow Aquafresh on Facebook - we just don’t give much of a damn.
A social media presence needs to be justified. Nobody will like your page or comment on your posts if they don’t have some sort of value. Remember: people are natural show-offs and attention seekers. Social media users often compete with their peers to look ‘better’ – which can mean different things to different people.
Some people want to look more-educated; some people want to appear funny and ‘cool’. And if you’re a “boring” business, you’re going to have to start getting creative.
That being said, here are 5 reasons why you still NEED social media
Okay, so I’ve painted a pretty negative picture of social media marketing so far. I’m sorry, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t have an unrealistic expectation of what you will achieve.
Having said that, I would almost always recommend that your business does have a strong social media presence, because it has a bunch of benefits that you don’t want to miss out on:
1. Brand Awareness
If you’re a small business social media can help get your name out there, and if you use social media properly by joining in and communicating - especially on hot and current trends and topics - consumers and brands alike will start to notice you.
Having a social media page gives credibility and authority to your brand. I’m not talking about SEO here, I’m talking about how your brand is perceived by consumers. Nowadays, if you can’t be found on at least one social media platform, it raises alarm bells to the consumer.
That’s just the brutal reality of today.
Audiences will always have questions and opinions. Social media allows you to communicate with your existing, potential and target audiences, which can provide you with invaluable insight. Addressing queries and directly communicating over social media will help build your brands trust, and make you appear more ‘human’ and accessible.
Brace yourself though, you WILL get negative feedback (everyone does, it’s just how it is) and it’s important that you deal with it appropriately.
4. Building Relationships
Social media will open up conversations and opportunities with other brands. Without social media, you might never have communicated with them before, and you can form great partnerships and relationships which can lead to great business opportunities.
5. Keeping an eye on the Competition
Healthy competition brings out the best (and worst) of us. Social media has made it easier to see exactly how you stand up with the competition in your market, and more importantly, to see why a certain competitor may be doing better than you.
You can use this information to see where improvements can be made your social media strategy, and within your organisation too.
Like with all good things in life, there are equal drawbacks
There is one obvious drawback to having a social media presence: you need to be active. Nothing looks worse than an empty page with no activity, so you need to be able to commit to your social media pages, by keeping a constant stream of content and new information.
Also, not every brand is obviously compatible with social media. There are many industries which would be completely ill-suited to the likes of Interest and Instagram, and likewise with other social media sites.
A common mistake is brands thinking they need to be active on every social media site. But you don’t. It’s all about finding where your audience hangs out online, and making it easy for them to find you.
Have your experiences with social media been a struggle? Or have you tapped in to a winning strategy? Comment below and join the discussion!