For a long while very few businesses were making money from social media. Recently, though, that has started to change.
Why social matters
My name’s Justin Deaville and I’m a social media cynic.
For a long while, I looked, but couldn’t find many examples of businesses that were making money from social media marketing.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to see online companies really benefiting from their investment in social marketing.
So, today, we’ll be looking at why social media matters, and how to get a return from our investment in it.
But, first, let’s be clear what we mean by social media. There are so many different possibilities.
What is social media?
Well, social media’s not this:
And it’s not this:
For our purposes, it’s really any online media that involves a conversation.
Which could be on a blog, a forum, YouTube, or any of the networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
Social media is also earned media.
I mean that participation is usually free, except for the cost of your time. (Although it’s very possible to waste hours, days, and weeks participating in social media without seeing any return).
Even worse are the companies that get social media so badly wrong that they end up harming their reputation:
Three approaches to social media
Let’s look at three different appproaches to social media.
First, there’s our friend Pedantic Pete.
"I’m Pete and I don’t really see the point of social media. A lot of people writing drivel. So what if I had a cheese sandwich for lunch. Who would want to read about that? I’ve got better things to do with my time."
And, of course, he’s right. No-one would care what he had for lunch.
But, Pete’s missing an opportunity. By not engaging with his audience, there’s now a disconnect between his business and his customers.
Next, there’s Hapless Harry. Harry’s made some efforts with social media. But, he hasn’t seen much success.
"I’m Harry. I Tweeted a few times. Didn’t get a lot of replies. So, I’ve set up an automated Tweet that goes out at the same time every week. Saves a lot of time and hassle."
And, finally, there’s clever Colin.
Colin uses social media to start and join conversations.
He’s established himself as an expert in his community.
And he uses social media selectively, where it’s appropriate for his business.
As a result, he gets regular feedback from his customers. And he’s picked up some new business, too.
And those are just two of the benefits that social media can bring. What are the others?
What’s the point?
Social media gives you a chance to show off your human side.
It’s a truism that customers buy from people they like. And, social media can be a great place to get people to know, like and trust you.
In other words, your business becomes a bit more human.
It’s a chance to talk with people who share your passions, to show off your expertise, and to establish your own voice.
Get great feedback
Social media can be a great place to get feedback about your business and your industry.
When we’ve written an article for the Wordtracker Academy, it’s clear when it’s popular.
And sometimes, we get negative feedback. Which can be tough.
But, we try to react positively, and believe that helps us build a loyal audience.
Address complaints quickly
You can create that loyalty by reacting to customer’s complaints quickly.
In fact, you don’t get much choice but to react. If someone criticises you online, you either respond to it positively, or get a reputation for not caring.
Improve your site’s rankings
We know that the search engines like to send traffic to sites that get lots of social likes and mentions.
If you want to boost your site’s rankings, getting on Google+ is essential.
Google’s been explicit about this. You can boost your rankings by using Google+ to verify your content.
For most of us, that news alone is good enough reason to sign up.
Grow your business
Social media interests me most when it helps build your brand, and generate sales.
Here’s a page from Google Analytics. It’s a report from one of my clients. His business gets 25% of its referral traffic from Facebook. Its largest single source of sales is Facebook.
I’ve obscured the names and numbers. So, what you can’t see is that the business is also on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+. Yet, it gets very little business from these sources.
Facebook just happens to be a great medium for this particular business.
It’s important that you choose the social media that’s suited to your line of work.
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