Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… what next? The growth of social media and its continually changing face is confusing even for everyday users. It can be pretty overwhelming.
Just a few years ago, it was simply a way for people to connect with friends and family. If you were a late entry to social media, or never really cared for it, you may have missed something…
Social media became an essential part of business and marketing.
Execs know their employees are using it. But some may wonder, just what’s the big deal? What are they up to? And how should you deal with it?
First, it helps to understand why you can no longer ignore social media as something people use to share family photos and chat with friends. That line of thought is a decade old.
Let’s get you up to date. Here are the top five essentials you should need to know about social media.
It’s Not Just for Kids, in Fact It’s Largely for Adults
Indian adults are huge consumers and users of social media. Recent figures find India had 250 million active social media users in 2018. While social media such as Facebook may have started in a college dorm room, younger people only account for certain, less-business-minded platforms and functions.
Most all major and lesser Indian brands use social media as part of their marketing strategy, and many are reaping the rewards of this efficient mode of reaching the customer.
Take Home Canvas as an example. This Bengaluru-based company centres on a platform offering made-to-order home décor and furniture. The company sources items from various parts of India and connects the original seller with the buyer.
Clearly, this a very visual type of product and service. People want to see (or even try) before they buy.
Home Canvas therefore took to Instagram (@homecanvas). Instagram is based around photos and now also video and text. Over a couple of years, the company amassed nearly 80,000 followers, making it one of India’s largest home décor platforms.
A look at the Instagram channel finds colourful and high-quality images that lend a personality to the brand. Relevant hashtags are also used to attract specifically interested users to every post. The company posts twice daily, and at times when the audience is most active. This ensures maximum exposure. It also makes the Instagram channel a main source of referrals to the company’s website.
This isn’t kids’ stuff: this is serious, impactful marketing and branding.
Social Media Marketing Gives Results
Regardless of your industry, segment, or audience, a huge amount of leads and customers for you are on social media.
India has more Facebook users than any country in the world: nearly 300 millionregistered users as of this writing. This presents amazing opportunities for businesses to connect with their audiences. But they have to be well set up and be ready to manage their channels effectively.
- Social media posts drive targeted traffic through hashtags, keywords, and casual browsing of your business’ social channels. If you present your business in an accessible way, you’ll get attention.
- Social media likely boosts your website’s ranking/SEO results as you’ll have more traffic coming in, and probably more linkages to your company site.
- Especially on Facebook and Instagram (in addition to LinkedIn) you can target highly specific different demographics for advertising and direct contact.
- The return on investment you get from social media is highly favourable. As of 2018, an average Google AdWords click cost the advertiser from $1.20 (in travel-related industries) to $5.27 (employment and education). If customers are converting at any type of reasonable clip, this brings acquisition costs way down as compared with traditional ad media.
But even with these attractive statistics, you may still be wondering, “How does sharing photos make money?”
A simple answer is that it’s not just photos. Increasingly it’s video, along with text, graphics, and of course words.
When a business shares any form of media on a social media channel, it can initially, simply attract attention at the top of the funnel. More directly to sales:
- Keywords can be associated with posts to attract people who seek out those terms.
- Paid ads allow either posted or original content to be promoted on specific channels and to highly defined audiences. Users can respond to or share this content, which increases exposure. They can also be led to direct sales through the content, in which case you need to be equipped to help them continue their buyer’s journey.
- There are systems in place for ads to follow users across channels, so even if they click once, they may find your ads when they go to other sites. These serve as a continual reminder. Many customers need a dozen or more encounters with a brand. This is something you cannot do through traditional media other than by buying lots of ads, everywhere imaginable.
According to a 2018 industry report, 3 million businesses use Facebook for marketing, and this brought in $11.8 billion in revenue just in the first quarter of the year.
The customers are there, and the results can be achieved, if you know how to communicate with them and how to convert them to buyers.
Social Media Channels Need Strategy and Time To Really Work
Traditional marketing such as TV or newspaper ads cast a wide net. They work when they fortunately match the right message with the right buyer. This can happen quickly. A great deal of chance is involved there.
Similarly, Facebook or YouTube ads may give a quick return when the people, place, price, and message all align. But that’s a very limited way to think about social media. It’s an old-school “push advertising” view.
If you effectively use social media for business marketing and take an integrated strategy, you’ll set yourself up for profit in perpetuity.
Here is how you can form a social media strategy:
- First, identify your target audience and then get them to notice your business.
To interact with the audience and get results:
- Find where your target audience spends its social networking time: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn are the main channels.
- Create a social media marketing plan and work on it.
- Write content, develop visual content, and post it on social media channels with hashtags and other ways of drawing in viewers. Always keep the target audience in mind. You don’t need such a big net; you need a good net thrown in the right place.
- Try using targeted paid ads, work to improve your organic results through SEO techniques and providing valuable content.
Once the target audience starts to follow your business, work to fulfil their needs and demands. Their needs include giving them the services for which they follow Arrange contests and giveaway for them. Send them freebies. Post user-generated content. You have to ensure that every effort you do on your social media channel has an impact on your audience.
From there you can cultivate your business customer relationship to enjoy over the longer term.
However, this will not happen overnight.
Success depends on your strategy, what results you’re seeking, and what you’re willing to pay.
Be consistent with your efforts (post content regularly, use hashtags where appropriate, and post at specific times), use a strategy (a proper social media marketing plan), and interact (by listening to queries and sending useful and human responses) in a meaningful way.
Your Target Customers Use Social Media, and You Need to Join Them
Social media is a part of daily life, especially in India.
Statista predicts this will continue to rise and rise, to over 300 million users in the next year or so. Of course, with users adding and dropping services constantly, it’s impossible to monitor, but it’s an awful lot of people.
As the use of social media increases, it’s essential for businesses to be active participants by managing their own channels and ads, interacting with users, and sharing other valuable content.
In the process, you’ll learn how your customers interact with your brand (if at all), and with other brands, and you’ll have to learn to shift thinking from one-way to cooperative.
Social media lets you communicate directly with your customers; you can’t do this with traditional media.
You can use social media to interact with your audience, solve their queries, and listen to what they have to say about your brand. This is a remarkable opportunity.
Social Media Works for B2C and B2B
Whether you’re running a business-to-customer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) firm, leveraging social media marketing strategies is important.
In B2C, it takes your business idea to the customer. An amazing 90% of the B2C marketers say their social media efforts have given their business exposure.
But to achieve these results, there are some factors that you need to consider including-
- Which social media platform(s) you use and how, your target audience, and how well you identify the patterns and behaviours of this audience, as they are your present or potential customers.
- The type of content that you post on your channel; in terms of content, image, and the form of media.
- The tone of your brand. It should be friendly, consistent, and must suit the side of your business that you are trying to represent.
For B2B business marketers, social media channels drive growth, generate leads, and helps them deliver exceptional customer services.
Moreover, in a survey of 115 marketing marketers in B2B, 79% rated social media as an effective marketing channel. Moreover, 38% of them said they would spend more on social media if they had the budget.
So irrespective of if you’re a B2B or B2C business, make sure you have a social media marketing strategy.
In Short: You Can’t Run a Business in 2019 Without It
Today, social media is a platform for making purchasing decisions, and for deciding which businesses will serve the customers their best. It’s a public forum where you can see your standing in your industry.
As an executive, you may not be the one to implement social media, but you need to buy into it, and you need to support its use in your company. Hire good people with proven knowledge. Be wary of outsourcing it all to an agency with big promises. Ask your peers. Ask your staff, at all levels.
One form of social media, LinkedIn, may be a great place for you to start to get more active. This is a globally reaching, business-oriented platform. Make connections and share ideas there. You’ll learn a lot.
Despite this, only 32% of organisations monitor their competition on social media. If you’re in the other 68%, isn’t it about time you starting getting more active?
Social media is no fad; that perception has come to an end. It’s here to stay, and businesses that continue to view it as too complex or too “young” will simply lose out to modern and aware companies.