Social Media for Business The Ones that GET it Right!

social media for businessSomeone once said “Be everywhere, do everything and never fail to astonish the customer”. When people first started using social media network sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to keep in touch with each other and share updates, smart businesses quickly followed. They created their own presence through business pages so that the fans of that business could stay in touch, hear about contests, promotions, sales offers and more importantly have direct communication when there was something they liked (and disliked) about the business.

Today, the use of social media for businesses is so much more and comes in a variety of flavours. Some businesses maintain Facebook and Twitter accounts simply to broadcast upcoming events, sales promotions or discounts. Other companies, the ones that really get the power of social media, have expanded their presence, leveraging the channel to host unique contests, gather feedback or name new products. A great example of this is Toyota with their competition for naming the plural of Prius….I am not sure what I would go for!

Common Mistakes Made When Using Social Media for Business

A common mistake that many businesses make when it comes to social media is signing up for several social media accounts, filling in some basic information on the profile and use it for a couple of weeks. When they get no traction, meaning they don’t make an extra £10,000 overnight (which in most cases, 99.9%, doesn’t happen!), they simply ignore and forget to use or update these accounts on a regular basis. Being on social media and not participating can be worse than not being on social media at all.

social media for business

Social Media for business requires a long term commitment, not a short term promotion window. The most successful social media presences for businesses are regularly updated and contain useful, interesting, helpful and often entertaining information not necessarily tied to the specific product or services of that business, for example this Google+ Hangout Cadbury UK did about chocolate tasting.

Social Media and chocolate I have a feeling there were a lot of excited women on that one!!!

Another mistake that businesses make with social media is treating it like another form of paid advertising and trying to make sales immediately from their social media audience. Those companies only talk about products and offers and sales…….boring! No one is on social media to buy, people are on social media to share experiences, learn more about a specific subject or company not to be bludgeoned to death with sales offers. Yes, it would be stupid not to make offers on social media but do it as a small part of your social media campaign.

When businesses understand that social media is for the long haul, it is not a sales driven environment, it is about conversations between themselves and their customers, their customers and other customers, their customers and their friends, then they start to see the benefits of social media.

Social media for business benefits.

Build trust and connections – People like to buy from people that they know, like and trust. As your social media followers interact with you, over time they get a feel for your business and start to understand a little more about the real you the person behind the keyboard. Then they start to come to expect your communications and actually include you in their daily activities.

They gain a higher sense of trust because they know you are a REAL company with REAL people and they know they will treated as a person and not as a number or a figure on the annual reports.

Learn about problems before they explode.

social media for business

Image by jbs20 via flickr

Social media is immediate, so a customer can write on your Facebook wall or Tweet something about your product or service as it happens. When you have an online presence, your customers can contact you immediately or you can be proactive instead of reactive and monitor discussions about your brand. This can be referred to as Brand Marketing. If some dissatisfaction or trouble is brewing online, you can respond immediately and resolve the problem before it snowballs and angry mobs show up at your door.

This is a great example of an organisation, Delta Airlines, getting social media right in the face of some negative comments on Twitter courtesy of Scott Stratten of Unmarketing

Turn Customers into ambassadors.

The real power of social media is when people pass on your information, share your links and Retweet your tweets to their networks. When you announce something on social media it can be shared by your followers on their own walls, so their friends get to see the update as well. Information can be rebroadcast several times on multiple networks and gain exposure to thousands if not millions of potential customers overnight, mainly because the update came from a friend and not from a business.

Social media for business has a host of other benefits as well, however the core message is that social media allows you to create an ongoing human connection with your customers. If as a business owner you see the power in that, then invest in providing a thrilling social media experience for your customers that compels them to become ambassadors of your brand and over time you will see the rewards.

Main Image by Beth and Christian Via Flickr