Joe Grano, of Next-Mark, generously shared with Landis Communications this insightful blog on social media. Next-Mark provides “next generation” marketing solutions for a broad spectrum of clients.
Wondering if Social Media is here to stay ? In fact a milestone in social media occurred over three days recently, when – on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day – Facebook (www.facebook.com) topped mainstay Google as the most visited U.S. site on the Web. In addition, it was reported that the social networking site had crossed the 100 million mark in membership in the United States, and its worldwide numbers were equal to our entire population.
Without a doubt, Facebook and other social media platforms are a major part of how people communicate and connect today. They’re also becoming the primary way people exchange information about products and companies, even becoming “fans” of those they love and creating groups to pillory those they don’t.
That’s why more and more companies are including “word of mouse” in their marketing plans. Although there are many reasons they’re doing so, following are a few most mentioned.
Here are Ten Things to Consider as we define Social Media as a Marketing and Communications Tool:
1. You Can Be Where People Are Looking. People today look for information on the Web, so you need to be there – not only with a professional, effective Internet website but in the arenas in which they gather to communicate, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
2. You Can Be Where People Are Talking. According to research, U.S. consumers who network via social media are four times more vocal about products and services than those who are not engaged. You can be there to “listen” and learn.
3. You Can Give Voice and Personality to Your Brand. Active and appropriate participation in social media can make you and your company seem more approachable, more authentic and more human. It can be an extremely efficient way to “share” information with people vs. “push” it at consumers through traditional outreach.
4. You Can Increase Your Visibility. This pertains to your presence not only among social media users, but on the Web itself. Research shows that 80 percent of companies engaged in social media report a rise in search rankings, with most reporting a strong improvement.
5. You Can Build Relationships – and Vast Networks. Is there anything more important? By engaging in conversations with your customers and prospective customers, you can build brand loyalty and create brand ambassadors while using the information you get to improve your products, services – and marketing. And on sites such as LinkedIn, you’d be surprised how fast your network can grow to seven figures.
6. You Can Leverage Your Relationships and the Relationships of Others. Again, LinkedIn is a great example. With membership on this platform, you can link up with professionals worldwide. This allows you to share information, take part in forums and research more deeply into potential customers and clients, finding the best means (and connections) to get your foot in their doors.
7. You Can Market for Free and Advertise at Minimal Cost. On Facebook, for instance, your fans create more fans, bringing more people to your page, Web site and point of sale. You also can use Facebook social ads to test out extremely targeted advertising for minimal cost and track results. Effective use of Twitter has shown results, as well, as chronicled in reports of movies that soared or were DOA due to the so-called “Twitter effect” of instant commentary.
8. You Can Build a “Sales Force” at No Cost. It’s called “social selling,” and it happens every time someone on a social networking site reports a positive experience with your product or service, exponentially affecting the purchasing decisions of their friends and friends’ friends. There’s an inherent element of trust you really cannot buy.
9. You Can Be Where Your Customers Are. If you think social media is for the young, you’re right – and very wrong. The fastest-growing segments of Facebook, for instance, are the 35-54 and 55+ demographics. Add to that the fact that the 25-34 population on Facebook is doubling every six months, and that’s a lot of buying power. (Some suspect the younger set has moved on to mobile, now that their parents are engaged on other platforms.)
10. You Can Make Effective Use of Your Marketing Time and Money. Admittedly, there is an upfront investment of personnel time in determining which social media are best for your organization. Once instituted, whether it’s a blog or a Facebook campaign or a combination of platforms, someone has to manage the process and maintain the relationships. Still, though, there’s a lot of bang to the buck when it comes to social media and it – or at least its consideration – to be part of every marketing plan.
Some 400 years ago, British historian and writer James Howell reportedly said, “Friendship is the great chain of human society.” In the 21st Century, we’re confirming that – each and every day in social media. And, sometimes, in 140 keystrokes or less.
Joe Grano and the Next-Mark team can be reached at www.Next-Mark.com or 941.544.2765.