Oct 14, 2009 with Comments 7
-by Adam Helweh
Principal, Secret Sushi Creative
Only a few years ago most business owners had never heard the term “social media”. Even now its meaning for many is still vague and mysterious. We are in a day and age much different than that of the past. Social media and new media provide one of the most accessible communication channels the world has known. It empowers both marketers and customers alike. Your customers are now afforded the opportunity to discuss, share, and critique their experience with your brand with unprecedented reach and influence. It has never been easier for those who spend money on your services and products to find alternatives.
Marketers are having to learn to be even more proactive in engaging customers and providing something of value beyond merchandise or services. Studies have show that affluent spenders do not want to lower their standard of living, but do want to be more careful in the purchasing decisions they make. Helping them in making those decisions are colleagues, friends, family members, and possibly you. Lets take a look at the popular social network Facebook. Previously the most social networks were thought to be frequented by only Gen Y, techies, and teens. Current numbers show that just under 60% of visitors on Facebook fall between the ages of 35 and 65 with women over 55 leading the charge. Since December 2008 Facebook has doubled to an incredible 300 million users. With more signing up each day how can businesses risk not having a presence ? If your not where I spend a considerable amount of my time, chances are your not going to have the opportunity to get to know me, interact with me, or listen to my needs. Go where the fish are, right? Well this lake is quickly turning into one of the biggest oceans on the planet and the average internet user is sticking around 3 times longer than ever before on sites like this.
Social networks aside, social media has so many options and funny names that it is no wonder it is overwhelming for some. Online video (both live streamed and pre-recorded), blogs, photo sharing services, interactive websites, slide sharing services, and other options are at our disposal. Add the increased usage of mobile devices such as smart phones (iPhone, Palm Pre, Blackberrys, etc) and laptops to access the web on-the-go and you have an incredible number of opportunities to engage with your clients/customers. Ultimately, what is right for you? I will address that in a future article. Much has been said about the tools, trends, and technology, but the evolution of social media as a business tool is essentially about its ability to foster relationships and build trust. As the presence of your brand grows across the internet, social media provides the best way to mold and shape how it is perceived by new customers, potential partners, and influencers.
Things to think about if your still deciding on social media for your business:
- People are increasingly using the web to check your reputation and that of your business. What will they find?
- Discussions are happening daily about brands, businesses and organizations. Are you listening to what is being said? Could that information give you a competitive advantage?
- Your current, past, and future clients are active on the social web. What is your level of engagement with them? Are you on the top of their mind when it comes time to spend?
- Your clients are viewing, discussing, and sharing content daily that is relevant and adds value. How much of that content is affiliated with your business? How would that shape their perception about your brand?
How to Get Started How can a business effectively use social media with so many options, so little clarity on what to do first, and such a wide span of virtual terrain to cover? You can accomplish this with some thought, preparation, and planning in the form of a “social media strategy”. Developing a social media strategy usually involves answering a few of the following questions:
- Is social media a viable way to reach who you want to reach? Are they active in places that make sense for you to engage them? (Yes, social media isn’t right for all businesses.)
- Is it something your business or organization can effectively adopt based on time, personnel, ability to try something new?
- What is the goal you hope to achieve? For example: Establish yourself as an expert, get customer feedback on a product, generate leads, increase brand awareness, or drive sales.
- How will you measure success? Are “dollars” the only measuring stick? How about sign ups, ideas submitted, comments, or mentions in the media?
- What are appropriate tools you can utilize to successfully accomplish what you wish to achieve? Is Facebook, Youtube, a blog, etc right for you?
Every business will have different answers for these questions. Seemingly similar businesses will have varying goals and different measures of success. A good social media strategy will alleviate confusion and provide a clear path on what direction to proceed. This reduces the time spent fussing with things and enables you to focus on building an online presence with a purpose. Once this is established, you can get the help that you need understanding the tools and protocols you have questions about. One of my biggest suggestions for those businesses that are serious about using social media is to work with someone who has experience in this area. I intend to share some of my insights and information regarding the current trends both through my own blog and on the Luxury Marketing Council of San Francisco’s blog. I hope you will join the discussion by leaving your thoughts or questions in the comments section below. You may also contact me directly via email at “adam @ secretsushi.com”. Don’t hesitate to contact me or leave feedback.
Filed Under: Luxe Experts