Social media is seemingly everywhere and just about every man and his dog is using it in some way or another. What is it, though, that has made social media so popular and the platform that the masses have truly embraced?
Second to that, how can you use social media as a platform to ensure that your business is where the masses are and is saying the right thing?
Why does social media rock?
Yes, there is a lot of psychology that comes in to play, such as esteem and self-actualisation which are psychological factors that can be tracked on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
The real reason behind all of this, however, is that it is accessible. By its very nature, social media is not a medium of communication that excludes.
By design, and definition, social media is about conversation. It’s a conversation that people have been having offline for hundreds of years. A conversation where your brand and service has been ripped apart and dissected without you having any knowledge of that it was happening.
People are now having this conversation in an online environment where they are giving you permission to “listen in” to their conversations (not in a Big Brother/FBI kind of way) and take the lessons from this conversation and implement them into your business to make your business better.
Social media, when used properly, can mean business progress and not just business conversation.
This is the value that social media, as a marketing tool, brings to businesses and why it is not only a tool that business-to-consumer (B2C) companies need to use, but also business-to-business (B2B) needs to invest in as well.
When looking at the decision making processes which buyers go through (B2B and B2C), both are looking for some form of reassurance that they are making the right decision. This reassurance comes in the form of testimonials, case studies, endorsements, product reviews and so on. This is social media today.
“Product proof” is now “social proof”. Consumers are sharing their experiences with your business and allowing millions of people to see how well or poorly you as a business fared.
Granted there are some fundamental differences in B2B and B2C marketing. Those differences will also translate to how you use social media for your business and the go-to-market strategy that you employ; but there is no inherent difference in the five rules which you need to follow in order to make it work for your business.
5 rules your business needs to understand about social media
1. Understand that there are some basics that your business needs to understand before you embark in any form of social media marketing.
These basics have been highlighted elsewhere.
2. Social media is not a quick-fix strategy or something that is going to see results immediately.
It is a long term strategy that takes a lot of investment upfront before you begin to see results down the line.
3. Social media and the internet are forever.
No longer can you just not reply to something in the hopes that it will go away. The internet never forgets! Your business needs to make a concerted effort to ensure that negative sentiment messages get a response which shows corrective action as well as measures which ensure that this will not happen again.
4. Social media is about sharing and getting information shared is how you ensure that your message reaches more than your immediate audience.
Always think in terms of your audience and make sure that the information you are positing adds value to their lives and that they would want to share this information with their followers and friends.
As a business involved in social media, you want to help your audience be seen as being the leaders among their followers (this again points back to Maslow’s Hierarchy).
5. Do not try and cut and paste from other marketing collateral.
Social media is a channel all of its own and it needs to be treated as such. The audience is savvy enough to realize which messages were primarily for them and which were copied. Context is critical within social media! The message always needs to be relevant so that when your followers are forwarding it to their followers; it remains relevant and does not lose too much of the context with which it was originally said.
With businesses looking at these general rules and fully engaging with their audience, they will see long term results and affirm why social media is a marketing tool that is here to stay and has been recently quoted as “the platform that broke marketing”.