The rapid growth in the use of social media is becoming more apparent by the day and is changing the way we do business. It is no longer a matter of determining whether you should use social media to market your business, but rather of determining how you should use it.
Social media, then, has become an integral part of business life as social websites and applications grow in increasing numbers. It can be used to market products, promote brands, connect to current customers and generate new business.
The integration of social media in the business world, however, can also pose challenges where employees may inadvertently post statements that are not in line with the organisation’s values or current message. So social media policies should be developed and designed to set expectations for appropriate behavior and ensure that an employee’s posts will not expose the company to legal problems or public embarrassment. Such policies might include directives for when an employee should identify themselves as a representative of the company, on a social networking website, as well as rules for what types of information can be shared.
“Social media” is a broad term used to describe all the different online technology tools that enable people to communicate easily with each other via the Internet. Methods used to communicate in this way can include posts on blogs or forums, sharing of photos, audio clips, videos and links or creating profiles on social networking sites, and posting status updates—usually with a feedback mechanism.
Key Social Media Platforms and Tools
While social media may have started out as a medium for friends and family to share information, smart business owners quickly caught on to how they could leverage the many different types of social media available to them. However, this is a rapidly changing landscape and new social media sites are popping up all the time so always be on the lookout for new and emerging resources and how they can be integrated to your specific business model and target market.
Depending on the industry you are in, certain types of social media may be more relevant than others. For example, those in the travel industry will find a site like Trip Advisor a useful social media tool. In addition, the use of social media may be more prevalent in some industries than others and will work differently for businesses in different fields. It is important to do your research to find out if and how your current and prospective customers are engaging with social media. Choosing the right medium will ensure you reach the right audience.
With the multitude of media options available it is also important to consider using not just one of these options, but a range that will do your organisation justice; offering product and service information; showing your organisation at work in pictures and videos and providing ongoing information and news … all of which underpin the organisations overall business plans and marketing strategies.
From a marketing perspective, social media can help you:
extend your marketing reach in an affordable way.
increase brand awareness of your products and services.
drive traffic to your website.
personalize customer service.
create excitement for events.
promote product/service launches.
build a community of customers who, by virtue of membership, endorse your products/services.
test market ideas.
open up new markets.
complement other marketing efforts such as paid marketing campaigns.
integrate a social element in your business by personalizing your company.