Business has changed a lot in many ways over the past decade, and very little in other ways. One of those ways is social media. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn have revolutionized many aspects of business including marketing and customer service. It’s something I use every day for business so I’m always at least mildly surprised when someone contacts me and says they’ve got absolutely no social experience whatsoever, not even a personal presence on Facebook. So today I want to share a couple of the perks of social media and a couple of problems/warnings as well.
Social media gives you instant access to (potential) customers. Go just about anywhere and you’ll see someone on their phone, typically checking their social pages or taking a selfie. Social media is a real-time platform for you to share updates and help with your customers and begin building a relationship with people who might buy from you in the future. No need to worry if they’re reading a specific news paper or watching TV at a specific time or driving past a specific billboard, your social updates can be seen anytime and anywhere in the world, even days, months and years later.
Social media allows for real-time customer service. If you’ve ever bought something and had an issue or needed to reach customer service, which just about everyone has, social media, especially Twitter, has taken on the role of the 1-800 call center in many ways. It’s an instant way to connect with a representative and share your feedback or ask for help, and an important way of getting feedback about your business and offerings.
Social media helps you target your marketing. Most social sites, Facebook especially, has really invested a lot in creating a super-precise ad platform that enables you to specifically target your ideal customers with your message. Digital Marketer and Unbounce are two sites that share lots of great insights and updates about using Facebook’s ad system, and while Google+, YouTube and Twitter aren’t as widely discussed as Facebook’s they’re also great tools for getting your message to your market in a direct and relatively inexpensive manner, without the worry that lots of your not-target audience will hear it. The downside of having super-targeted advertisements means that if you target wrong you will waste that effort, just like you would doing the old spray-and-pray approach.
Social media is not sales media. This is the biggest challenge and one of the things I love most about social media. Simply put, it makes business human again. Now it’s not just about ‘I’m a business, buy my stuff’ but about creating and supporting a community of people who are passionate about what you love and helping them get the most out of what you offer. But miss or skip this step and you’ll see very little success with social media.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social media, so I invite you to post your questions and challenges in the comments.
“Technology has allowed me to reach my fans directly. Social media: it has been a complete revolution of how to interact, promote and share things.” Tony Hawk