Is social media the best thing to ever happen to your business? Or has social media become an object of annoyance? The love-hate relationship with social media is a complicated one. On one hand, social media can bring awareness of a certain cause to millions of people in a matter of seconds. On the other hand, social media can be very time consuming. For me, its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks.
With more than 800 million users on Facebook alone, the thought of not establishing a Facebook page for your business is a shocking one. The largest and most ubiquitous social media site available, Facebook is the number one most utilized
social networking platform on the Internet today—great for generating awareness and thought leadership. With millions of users shopping online, Facebook should be the first choice for online retailers to market their goods and services to their target audience.
Additionally, social media fosters two-way communication between organizations and the public better than any other platform available. According to Edison Research
, users research and engage with businesses on Twitter. Approximately 42% use Twitter to research products and services, while 41% actually provide their own opinions about their favorite (or not so favorite) products and services. It’s inevitable that Twitter usage will become customer-to-company interaction—making it great for customer support.
Then there’s this mobile marketing thing. The increase of smartphone usage has changed the way we do everything—from buying clothes to entertainment. Users can now access their Facebook and Twitter accounts from the palm of their hands. They can also transfer money, check movie times, make donations—the list is never ending. What's more is the invention of the QR code. Mobile users can now take a picture of a QR code and become instantly connected to a brand. Through two-dimensional matrix barcodes
, a QR code has the ability to hold an abundance of information, making them extremely practical for small business.
We can’t forget about YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, and Tumblr
—all making impressive strides in the social media revolution. These platforms are also great for marketing purposes. Brands can easily spread news, video and pictures, which can then be reposted or reblogged through these sites. Why wouldn’t a business want to use social media again? Oh yeah, the drawbacks. The biggest complaint about social media is the time restraint. Content must be generated, edited, and published. Comments must be replied to and platforms must be regularly maintained. Also, make a mistake with how you communicate through social media and it can severely damage your business. So to do it right, you have to be strategic about how you do it. Know your audience. Understand what they need from your social media activities. And have a plan for how it fits into your overall marketing and communications plan.
Whether you love or hate social media, it’s here to stay, so you better learn to love it—or hire someone who does. Because if you choose to ignore it, and your competitors do not, your customers will soon choose to ignore you.