Using social media as a marketing tool

Earlier on in this blog we have already talked about different ways of using Facebook for ecommerce, but what about its potential for use simply as a tool for interacting with your target market?

According to Facebook itself then it has over 500 million active users, 50% of whom log on in any given day. As for Twitter, research has recently been conducted that suggests 8% of the online Americans use the website. Whilst this might seem a surprisingly low figure, the site itself claims an impressive 175 million users. Given it was only launched 4 years ago, the site is clearly growing at a staggering rate. And every user on both sites has the power to refer friends at the push of a button. There can be little doubt of the powerful resource for marketing that such social websites present. Disney, for example, has recently had more than 100 million people connect to its Facebook pages. The question, then, becomes: how should you present your corporate image on social media?

The first thing to remember is the obvious fact that social media are social websites. Whilst elsewhere on the internet you might consider yourself a brand, on social media, it can be more useful to think of yourself as a community. These websites are very personal websites and so it pays to present a more personal image of your company. Not only does it help your target market engage with your company, but it is an effective way to building consumer trust in your brand. Keep the personal touch – welcome new users, interact with your followers, and make it obvious that you are in fact a real person and not a faceless brand. Be careful not to spam people, but equally, don’t be afraid to interact with them either.

The second thing to remember is that the average user on either Facebook or Twitter is viewing a long newsfeed. In order to avoid being simply skipped over, you need to appear unique. A large, interesting profile picture is an excellent way to draw people onto your pages. Quirky tweets that make people smile are likely to get retweeted to friends and expand your sphere of influence.  Interesting links to relevant sites – for cake shop, a bakery might link to photos of a cake decorating competition – can be very effective in garnering interest and sparking off interaction.

The third thing is that, once you have gained your followers, you cannot rest on your laurels, you need to keep them engaged. By offering your followers things and interacting with them, you keep them interested in your company. This does not always need to be straight forward discounts and sales, but can be creative and interactive as well. For example, you might utilise the ability to share content and photos and run a competition or give an offer only if a set challenge is completed. So the hypothetical cake shop might offer a free decorating course for the user who posts the best photo of a cake they made themselves. Or you might offer a discount to the user who posts the best photo of them using your product in an unusual place. The opportunities really are endless and, as long as you keep your users engaged, they will keep returning to your company and be more likely to buy your products.

The final important thing to remember is that you cannot control what people say about your company. There is a history of large companies being caught out by their handling of criticism on social media. The most recent memorable example being Paperchase. The thing to remember is that people are going to be talking about your brand anyway, a social media presence simply helps you to influence what they say. If and when criticism occurs, engage with it and use it as an opportunity to listen to what your market want and to build their trust that you do care what they think.

Posted by Jon Potter


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