It is always important to remember that social media began on the premise of allowing friends and family to stay in contact with one another, as well as for people to make new friends. It was only in the recent few years that businesses started tapping into this medium after realizing the potential of social media as a marketing and promotional tool.
However for many businesses, the transition from more traditional forms of media (i.e. print, radio and TV) to social media can come as quite a shock. There are four points I would like to share; below are the first two.
1. Be personable.
When using social media, companies have to remember that it is no longer based on a top-down communication model. The audience has equal power as it is a self-publishing medium after all. This however may not necessarily be a bad thing as it is a chance for companies to humanize their brand and make it more personable. It is also a chance to communicate directly and learn what makes them tick. Get out there and be their friend.
The last thing you want to do on social media is to be instructing your audience and telling them what they should or should not be doing. Consumers like to know that they have freedom and the power of choice; which is the beauty of the online medium. Things spread very fast on the internet – there’s viral good and viral bad. Let’s just say it’s better to keep it to the former.
2. Know your audience and engage them.
With so many different types of social media networks and platforms out there, and new ones emerging every so often, it can get rather daunting for companies to manage their social media presence. Companies need to understand each of the social media networks and evaluate which would be the most effective for their business. Without doubt the top three social networks businesses should get on are – 1) Facebook, 2) Twitter and 3) LinkedIn. Depending on the kind of business/industry the company is in, having a YouTube channel could be useful too.
But it goes beyond having a Facebook page or Twitter account; companies need to understand the nature of each social network and post content relevant to their audience (for e.g. Facebook would be useful in building a community and Twitter would be suitable for engaging audience/customers in conversations). Think about what would make your target audience visit your Facebook or Twitter page more often. Perhaps organizing competitions? Or involving them in your R&D process for your next product? Or maybe providing them with an incentive to visit your store (using coupons/vouchers)?
Know who your audiences are, figure their needs and then find the right platform based on that.
An emerging social network/iPhone app is Instagram – a photo-sharing application which allows users to choose up to 15 filters to treat their photos with (which somehow manages to make normal looking photos a piece of art). Due to the nature of Instagram as a platform for sharing artistic photos, it may not be applicable or suitable for all businesses. However for certain businesses, it can help reach new audiences. The fashion industry is one example where Instagram can be used as a promotional tool for showcasing upcoming lines
Stay tuned for Part 2 as I share the remaining two points on how to use social media effectively.