It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in today; you won’t get around using Social Media in one way or another.
Social Media has pretty much replaced most other Marketing and Advertising channels.
To understand how Social Media works, we need to identify what it is.
Social Media consists of many channels in which people exchange information about anything you can think of. It is like a window to the rest of the world, and anyone can access it without leaving the house. It allows interactions without forcing you to do so.
It provides information about anything you might be interested in and provides a way for you to tell your story or talk about your interests to anyone who wants to listen. All of this is made available mostly for free for anyone to use.
Something like this has never existed before, and it has risen so fast that most of us running our business struggle to understand how it works and how to use it effectively.
Traditional Media Channels like TV, Radio, and Print are suffering heavily from the Social Media phenomenon and right now it is looking terrible for the OLD channels.
As mentioned before, Social Media consists of many different channels and each channel attracts a specific type of user. The most known channels are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, but there are many more (Google it). Every month I hear of a new channel starting up and of another channel closing down, and the landscape is continually moving.
Let me give you some numbers to understand better what we are talking about here:
Total user by Social Media channel (over 100 Million users/2016) based on BrandWatch.com:
- Facebook: 1.71 billion users
- Flickr: 112 million users
- Google+: 300 million users
- Instagram: 400 million users
- LinkedIn: 450 million users
- Pinterest: 100 million users
- Snapchat: 100 million users
- Twitter: 320 million users
- Wechat: 1.12 billion users
- Weibo (Chinese): 600 million users
- WhatsApp: 900 million users
- Youtube: Over 1 billion users
Each channel has its type of user, and most users interact on multiple channels. Most of the channels are multi-lingual with a solid English speaking base (Weibo being the real exception). Depending on the language you work in, the numbers might be different.
How Can You Use Social Media For Your Business?
Let’s assume you identified your target market (if you don’t know how to contact me, and I will point you in the right direction).
The important thing is to find the channels your target market utilizes and how they use it.
Because there is no real structure in place, you can get lost very quickly. The best bet is to select 1 or 2 of the most apparent channels and learn how your potential customers interact on these channels. That means you need to become part of the community. It is like going to a party.
There might be some potential customers at the party, but you’re not going to bombard them straight away with an offer or only talk about your products or services and try to sell it to them.
They came to the party to have a good time and enjoy themselves. It would be much more useful to present yourself to them and become part of it, enjoying yourself and leaving a positive impression that ensures that they will remember you.
Social Media channels are not sales channels, but they are what it says ‘Social’.
The secret lies in becoming part of the Social infrastructure and providing value to the tribe. If the tribe is ready to commit to the next stage, it will come to you. The tribe knows you, trusts you and believes that you’re the right person to spend their money on.
To do this most effectively, you need to be clear on your target market and have it cut down to the smallest possible group (niche). It is much harder to find the right people at a party with 1000 participants than at a party with 20 participants.
Of course, most of the platforms provide you with the option to advertise your services and products to its members and in that they are not different from other media out there.
But in my mind, this misses the point. It is like using old business methods in a new medium. Of course, it might work (it has to, as it is the only way for most channels to make money!), but I would suggest using the power these platforms provide and disregard the old methods.
Think about it! Starting or running a business is much more than just advertising. It is about identifying problems in your market you can or want to provide a solution for.
It is about market research to understand how your customers use your products and services and what they like or don’t like. It is about identifying changes in the market and being able to adjust and stay competitive. All of this requires interaction with your potential or existing customers.
Social Media platforms provide the base for all of this, and if you are serious about your business, you will have to work on this (becoming Social) anyway.
Once you identified your perfect channel(s) (1-2 at the most), you start creating your follower base. These are not any followers, but people you have provided value to and are happy to recommend you to anyone who wants to listen. That is the power of Social Media.
It’s common knowledge that a recommendation from a customer is the most powerful sales tool ever and Social Media is
The Platform for Recommendations
You might think that you don’t have the time to spend on Social Media channels all day to stay in contact with your potential or existing customers. If that is you, you might want to think again.
What is your business without customers? They’re the ones paying your bills, but if done correctly you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) spend all day on Social Media. There are lots of tools out there to help you manage that part, watching your conversations and listening in to other conversations where others mention you or your products and services.
Here is a list of the currently best known I investigated:
All of those concentrate either on a specific part of Social Media or on one particular channel.
To sum it all up:
The best way of using Social Media today is to become part of it, interact and provide value.
If you are not sure how to implement this into your business, get someone in or dedicate someone in your company to help you with this. There are many Social Media Coaches out there who might be able to help you. Like always choose wisely and embrace the change you will have to make in your company to stay at the forefront.
Let me know your experiences, ideas, and problems using the comment section below and if I can help I will 🙂