Understanding Social Media

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Understanding Social Media

In this instalment of Words that Bite, I look at how to work out whether you should use social media to promote your business.

TIP NO. 15

If you are tempted to use social media to market your business, think before you act

Social media as an advertising tool

There is no doubt social media is a force to be reckoned with. It has not only revolutionised the way we interact socially, but has provided a number of diverse platforms from which businesses of all shapes and sizes can market their products and services.

When social media marketing is done well, there is no doubt that it is a brilliant tool. There are many stories of social media advertising campaigns that have gone viral.

The Dove Real Beauty Sketchescampaign is a good example of this phenomenon. In 2013, it became the biggest viral ad video of all time, with 114 million views on YouTube. It was also uploaded in twenty-five languages, meaning it had global impact.

Closer to home, the Metro Trains Melbourne 2012 campaign ‘Dumb Ways to Die went viral and has notched up over 59 million views on YouTube. It also won an astounding five prizes at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it?

There is no doubt it is quite a special moment when a company finds a way to reach millions of people through a free platform such as YouTube.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that while a big brand with a large and very clever advertising agency behind it might occasionally get this kind of result from social media, for most small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) it is unlikely ever to happen.

Not many SMEs will be able to come up with a YouTube video that goes viral and provides the brand with instant global recognition that leads to world-wide domination.

How effectively do SMEs use social media?

Well, obviously the answer to that question depends on the business. While some SMEs use social media effectively, to build a community around their brand and boost sales, the sad reality is that most SMEs don’t ‘do’ social media very well.

In a recent survey the Harvard Business Review conducted, only 12 per cent of companies said they were effective users of social media.

In short, if you feel that your business falls into the category of not being an effective user of social media, you are not alone.

Why most business owners don’t use social media effectively

There are three main reasons most businesses fail to use social media effectively:

  1. Most business owners don’t really understand the purpose of social media.
  2. Most business owners don’t grasp how social media actually works.
  3. Most business owners don’t spend enough time thinking about whether social media is the right tool for their business.

What you need to know before you decide to embark on a social media marketing campaign

The most important thing to understand about social media is that it is not a place where you can get away with conventional forms of advertising.

More specifically, social media isn’t a suitable location for ‘shout marketing’. It isn’t the forum to squeeze in some sort of compressed version of a newspaper, magazine or television advertisement and hope for the best.

Conventional advertising doesn’t work on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube Instagram, Pinterest, etc. In short, if you start merely banging on about your product or deals, you will find that people tune out very quickly.

Instead, social media is about interacting with consumers. It is about influencing by initiating and participating in conversations with potential customers or clients. Basically, it is a dialogue rather than a monologue.

Social media is also about content – high-quality content.

Therefore, before you embark on a social media campaign, you need to consider whether your business is the kind that lends itself to coming up with high-quality content that will spark a discussion with your customers or clients. You then need to examine whether, through that discussion, you can incorporate these customers or clients into a community around your brand.

Once you have a community, look at how to use social media to:

  1. Increase awareness of your organisation, products and/or services.
  2. Secure more favourable perceptions of your organisation, products and/or services.
  3. Monitor trends among customers or clients.
  4. Research new product ideas.

Finally, you can think about how you can persuade the people in this community to buy your product or service.

Is a poor-quality social media strategy better than no social media strategy at all?

There is nothing worse than a feeble social media marketing strategy.

Personally, I think you are better off not having a social media strategy than having a miserable one.

The most important thing to understand is that building a social media strategy takes time. It involves a lot of thought and hard work; there is no point in embarking on it in a half-hearted manner. A social media marketing campaign isn’t something you can put together overnight.

How to decide whether to use social media to market your business

There are a number of steps you should take before you decide to embark on a social media marketing strategy for your business:

Step 1:

Research each of the social media platforms (ie, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and make sure you understand how each one operates.

Step 2:

Analyse which of the social media platforms might be appropriate for your business.

For example, if your business is in the area of professional services, you are probably going to find that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are more useful for your purposes than Instagram and Pinterest. If, however, you are running a business involved with the fashion industry, you might find Instagram and Pinterest very useful tools.

Step 3:

Evaluate whether you have sufficient content of the type that can be marketed through the social media platforms you have identified as potentially suitable for your business.

Step 4:

Outline exactly how you can use each social media platform to market your content and build a community around your brand.

To summarise:

Before you decide to embark on a social media marketing strategy, you need to:

  • Grasp the purpose of social media.
  • Understand how social media actually works.
  • Establish whether you have the content to support a social media marketing campaign.
  • Identify the most suitable social media platforms for your business.

In the next instalment of Words that Bite, I look at the issue of social media in more detail, and examine how to prepare a social media marketing campaign.

Are you too busy running your business to think about whether you should embark on a social media marketing strategy? Would you like someone to look at the issue for you? If so, call the Pink Rottweiler on +61 (0)409 609 903 or email me at info@pinkrottweilercopywriting.com.au.

Who is the Pink Rottweiler? The Pink Rottweiler is Genevieve Burnett – a copywriter who will take the time to research your business and come up with the smart words to sell your product or service.

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