The exponential rise in web consumerism strongly warrants a detailed online business impression besides an existing offline identity.
While the internet paved way for businesses to reach a newer and previously unchartered customer base, it is social media that has helped to not just increase engagement with them but also benefit the business directly and indirectly through its potential and vast-reaching tentacles that cover some key aspects of every business.
The monosyllabic answer to what social media has done to improve businesses is ‘lots’.
Here’s taking a look at how social media has helped to improve businesses:
Forge a community
All businesses know that customers are the backbone of their business.
And when your existing and prospective customers are all present in one place, you can not just warm them up for sales but also long-lasting relationships through continuous engagement.
And it’s positive customer relationships that will keep them coming back for repeated purchase. And it’s this relationship that turns customers to brand stalwarts.
When building a community, you need to not just speak but also listen. Social media interaction and engagement is a two-way process. The founder of eBay Pierre Omidyar says:
“We have technology, finally, that for the first time in human history allows people to really maintain rich connections with much larger numbers of people.”
And when you build a strong community of like-minded peers and loyal customers, you also establish yourself as an authority in your industry by default. Which further helps with both promoting your business as a strong brand and positioning you among the top buying options.
Probably one of the most important ways social media helps businesses is through its exceptional marketing abilities. And such is its importance that social media marketing has in the last decade become quite a thing.
Harsh as it may sound but not a lot of people cared about the ALS or knew what it was before the Ice Bucket Challenge. Not a direct marketing effort per se but it made ALS a household term with millions of dollars raised for the cause.
Social media makes your customers aware of your brand and products. Your website gets more traffic through social media, most of which are somewhere in the middle of the sales funnel with a higher chance of a conversion as they come to you through social media after liking what they see.
Providing a personal and humane touch is an excellent way to market, and social media is excellent at it.
It helps you to give a face, a tone, and an image to your business while simultaneously helping you to convey your message in a less formal but still more receptive way.
The best tip to master a social media marketing strategy is to be true to the voice of your brand. Create an identity and stick to it.
When you build a community online, it doesn’t take too long for your business to become a bigger brand.
And while social media already lays the foundation – through community building – it also helps to further your branding efforts by continuously positioning you in an online avatar you want to be seen as.
Where perhaps social media helps the most when it comes to branding is consistency. You don’t just establish yourself as an authority but you also keep that position.
And for branding a business, one of the most important requirements is a uniformed look, voice and image.
One example of this is Target. They are synonymous with the color red and every social media forum they are on have highlighted and subdued versions of the color.
The overall voice of the brand is of paramount importance too as it allows existing and new customers to instantly connect with what your brand is all about.
Some brands make abundant use of humor with their content projecting a fun laidback voice while some are more formal and professional sounding.
Take Nike for example, adjectivally speaking, their brand voice is motivational, and especially covering physical activities. And you’d often see their posts are of sports players working out, workout video tutorials, motivational quotes and more of such.
This voice again is aligned through major social media forums like Instagram and Twitter.
They even use the same hashtags for their posts for a unified branding approached.
Exceptional customer service
Even if you disregard every other point, you have to admit that social media has made it possible to not just interact with customers to provide quick service, but also opened new ways of offering great customer service that positively impacts the goodwill of the business and help retain customers.
Customers actually end up spending 30-40% more after companies engage with and proactively solve their complaints/issues expressed or help solicited on social media.
Termed ‘Social Care’, merging customer service and social media is a rapidly evolving concept.
And a lot of established companies are already hiring a separate team of customer care executives to concentrate solely on customer complaints on social media.
Customers prefer to take to social media platforms to communicate grievances and even positive feedbacks. Both shouldn’t go unnoticed and definitely not not-responded to.
But when it comes to actually providing detailed service, it is best to direct them to either e-mail or telephonic options so that the conversation isn’t broadcasted to your entire list.
Even if customers aren’t directly approaching you with comments and complaints, you still need to know what they are saying about your business.
Use social media monitoring tools to stay updated. Also keep an eye on your competitor’s to see what customers are saying about them, what sort of customer engagement and service they promise and their effect on customers.
And use the information thus obtained to better your social care strategies.
Social media is a double-edged sword. While it can make you a brand within a short span, it can also undo years of your efforts almost overnight.
A classic example is the Amy’s Bakery fiasco. After the bakery was featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares where things turned pretty ugly, the company posted damaging content that was basically social media suicide.
While they are still reeling from the negative impact of it, you can take a lesson.
Never lose your cool on social media no matter how bad the situation is.
But even if you did in the past make a similar mistake or had your reputation compromised because of a certain incident, you can lessen the blow with a lot of effort.
It takes time to build trust on social media and it would take longer to get it back, so make sure that you are taking steps to manage your online reputation with care.
A few handy tips to build better business with the help of social media:
A large chunk of your customers stay active on social media through their phones. You need to have a responsive approach and easy to direct purchase links that work seamlessly on mobile devices too.
You can even test the efficacy of products through social media before launching full scale.
Real-time customer engagement goes a long way in keeping them happy.
Give customers options to buy directly from social media platforms.
Keep your social media pages active, at least the ones that bear the locus of your customer base.
Do you have any more tips to add?