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Social Media has slowly taken over the business and marketing world as we know it. The terms “sales” and “customer service” have been completely redefined over the last decade, and in turn has transformed the way we need to interact with customers and do business. Long gone are the days when you had to rely solely on your reputation to make a sale, and no longer can you make a sale without a reputation.

So, what happens when you ask over 100 digital and business professionals what their opinions are on social media? An onslaught of different and varying answers, none of which were the same! Proof that social media is not calculus, and it does not rely on one standard formula to generate answers. Instead, it depends solely on the marketers style, the business and the industry, giving each and every strategy it’s own personality. While many aspects of social media may vary, one thing we all can agree on is that it is a must have for any company, in any industry.

WHY BE ON SOCIAL-MEDIA

Hello…why NOT be on social-media? As Alex Greenwood (@a_greenwood), Principal at AlexanderG Public Relations, simply puts it: “If you aren’t proficient with and actively engaging customers on at least one social media channel (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+), then you simply aren’t in business. It’s the twenty-first century equivalent of not being in the phone book!” We live in a world where 4 year olds are learning how to read and write on iPads, and I have actually witnessed a child in a stroller operating a smartphone better than I can. To us, it seems pretty obvious why you should want to be using social-media as a part of your business and marketing strategy! In saying that, we understand not all savvy business owners are savvy marketers, and many still can’t grasp the concept of social media and why it is so important to the success and future of any business. Below are several convincing reasons why you need to be on social media:

Unlimited Potential

Social Media is the biggest thing since Godzilla. In fact, most businesses do not even limit themselves to just one platform. By marketing on multiple platforms, you are putting your brand where everyone can see it. “Social Media is huge,” says Stephanie Biscow (@StephanieBiscow) from DCW Media (@DCWmedia), “Not only are you putting yourself in front of your customers, but you are engaging them in a fun, interactive and customized way. The potential is almost endless.” By utilizing social media, you are allowing your business to reach an unlimited audience, and not only that, you can actually have a real relationship with your customers.

That’s where your customers are, so that’s where you should be!

We feel it only makes sense to place your brand right in the middle of all of the action. Are there billboards and advertisements in the middle of the Sahara Desert? Probably not, because that is not where the consumers are! Since it is likely that your customers and potential prospects spend their days scrolling through their news feeds on different forms of social media, this is exactly where you need to be. The goal is to put yourself in the lives of your customers, and the easiest way to appear every day is through social media.

 

Your competitors are on it- so should you

With the digital world growing so rapidly, know that your biggest competition is using social media as a marketing platform to reach millions of people with their product, even if you aren’t. By not being on it yourself, you are losing some serious ground in your industry and missing out on major opportunities to further grow your consumer base and customer relations. Not only that, but being on social media allows you to see what your competition is up to! It seems like a win-win in the business world.

People are talking about you no matter what

‘All press is good press’ if you know what to do with it. The truth is that people are always going to be talking about your business, either positively or negatively. Social media at least gives you the opportunity to track and assess these comments so that you can use them to your advantage or develop solutions to problems. Using multiple digital platforms will allow you to cover all of the bases, and will enable you to see first hand and in real time what people think about you. Think of it as ‘marketing telepathy’, where you get a sneak peak into the minds of all of your customers! That is how strong a tool like social media can be for you.

Customer Service

Whenever I am in a line at the DMV, bored out of my mind, I tend to do one thing and one thing only in order to curb my sanity: social media. I scroll through all of my feeds and eventually end up on Twitter, where I can’t help but let all of my followers know about how I will never understand why the DMV enjoys putting people through such agony every single time they walk through their doors. Customers are tempted to talk about all of their experiences. Whether they send an angry Tweet about how long they have waited for something, or they can’t help but Instagram the beautiful dish you served them, social media has become the new customer service department. When people have problems, they want answers quickly. The quicker you are able to address these problems, the better reputation you will develop with your customers. Social media allows you to see feedback on your product and give a response at the speed of light, making everybody happy and free to move on with their day.

Real Time Information and Promotion

Let’s face it, we live in a fast world where people know what they want and they want it yesterday. Social media is the easiest way to reach an insane amount of people in barely no time at all. Did we already mention that it is pretty much at no cost to you either? There are literally BILLIONS of users on Facebook, and Twitter is growing every single day. Not to mention other quirky forms of social media such as Instagram and YouTube. The potential to reach consumers without having to leave your computer or smart phone is almost infinite, and it is an unbelievable opportunity for you to be putting out vital information about your product just as soon as it is coming in. People LOVE feeling like they are a part of your business. After all, you wouldn’t survive without them, would you?

Now that it is blatantly obvious just how badly you and your business need social media, here are some tips that make it seem much less scary:

TIPS WHEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Connect with your Fans

When you follow someone on Twitter, or ‘Like’ a page on Facebook, you are sending out the message that you ‘like what they’ve got going on’ and you want to know what it/he/she is doing all the time, every day. Fan engagement is just one of the many perks of using social media, and it is important to remember that the people who follow you on social media want to be your friends! Be likeable with your posts, and “do the unexpected by telling great short stories that captures your audience” Says NY Times best seller and CEO of MSCO (@yourmktingsucks) Mark Stevens. “Draw on the teaching moments in your life to help develop your personal signature, style and brand.” The goal is to expand your consumer base, and to show the world that you have a likeable brand. Being honest and creative with how you engage on digital platforms will only draw attention to your awesome company.

Be Consistent

Everybody has that one friend who’s personality changes every day, depending on who they are with. Don’t be that friend. If you are using multiple platforms of social media (as you should be), be sure to relay a consistent message through each and every platform so you don’t become confusing and give off the wrong idea. Consumers want to know that you are reliable as a business, and one way to show them that is by staying true to your values and developing one voice and style that they can depend on.

Have a Plan

Don’t go into this like you’ve been blindfolded swinging at a pinata, take some time in advance to develop a plan and a direction for your social media goals. Evaluate your company goals and values, and align them with the plans you have for your digital platforms. When discussing strategy, don’t overlook what you want the content of your social media to contain. Know ahead of time what values you want to shine through, what style you want to have, and any other creative details that will go into having a killer social media profile.

Don’t Make it All About You

Nobody likes someone who brags, so your social media platforms are definitely not the place for that. The great thing about social media is that it allows you to be expressive and connect with your consumers. They want to know all about your product, so tell them! Just don’t make it all about you, and as Zack Miller (@zacmiller84), founder of Hatch (@hatchnorfolk) states, “it is essential to educate first, sell second”. Don’t be afraid to let your clients see right into the heart of your company, even if this means you have to talk about the struggles, the drawbacks, or the advancements.

Be Patient

Social media doesn’t happen overnight. It will take some time for your platforms to grow, but be patient and enjoy the process! Social media is a fun way for you to develop a personality for your business, and to engage consumers in a different and interactive way. Once you develop a closer relationship with the customers engaging with your product, you will start to understand which methods attract the most attention and will further increase your social media following.

Now that you understand the different ways you can use social media, and already have ideas going in your head about how you can make your digital platform better than your competition, let’s figure out which digital platforms you should choose to be on:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS TO CHOOSE

Can you believe that out of all of the digital professionals we spoke with, no two professionals had the same answer to this question?! The almighty and powerful Facebook was the most frequent answer, as most of the professionals we asked said that YOU should be on Facebook. According to some professionals, a few digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are “must haves”, but there is no rule book when it comes to choosing a social media platform. Some platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest tend to cater to a more creative and visual way of marketing, where others such as Google+ and LinkedIn are more business-like in their approach. Which ever digital platforms you do choose is really dependent on the industry and your product, but there are no limitations to which social media you can and cannot use! What a refreshing idea! Enjoy the freedom of social media and experiment with the different platforms according to your company needs.