2018 is a time of great change in the world of commerce. A transition has been occurring for the best part of a decade away from traditional forms of marketing and customer engagement to a digital sphere were orders, questions and interactions are taking place on the web’s many different outlets.
It then makes it paramount for operations from all niches to be in sync with the modern habits of consumers who require various points of contact to satisfy their personal expectations. If your enquiry reaches a dead end during a search on Google, Facebook or Twitter, then that will simply result in lost business.
So the question at hand remains outstanding: does your business actually need a social media account?
To save on the suspense, the answer is a relatively straightforward one: YES!
Unless you happen to be in a situation whereby you do not want business to grow such as a local farmer or a private retailer who caters to a small collection of buyers, then a social media presence through multiple accounts is the only way forward.
The perception that social media is just a communication toy for Gen Y has been rebuked by the data emanating from various reporting all across the globe. The same was said just about the Internet during its boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Dare a business not have a website up and running today?
No one is in a position to tell enterprises how they should run themselves. Each company will have their own strategy and way of approaching the issues of marketing and customer relations. Yet it is imperative that social media marketing is not looked upon as a hassle or hindrance, but rather a great opportunity.
Put simply, social media is an open free space that allows brands from all walks of life to operate with freedom of expression. Unless you are looking to boost an advertisement with some financial commitment (something that is offered for a handful of social media sites), then the platforms from Google + to Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are environments that only require human endeavour, creativity and hours to build a rapport with customers.
Whereas one post could potentially garner a market of hundreds or thousands with the click of a button, a flyer, billboard, radio or television spot can cost thousands of dollars without any real gauge of the return on investment (ROI). Not only is social media a more cost effective alternative than traditional forms, but the analytics on hand allows users to actually track what modes of content are driving up views and shares and what requires improvement.
Investigate Trends and Competitors
While it is true that major brands will bank on their real world recognition to leverage it online, do not for one moment believe that they rest on their laurels. An operation with the global reach that Starbucks enjoys will be updating and researching the search habits of coffee drinks and drinkers to ensure that they remain ahead of the curve. A search engine optimisation (SEO) tool such as Google Analytics will be able to help in this scenario, yet social media is a means of examining what posts are trending in your given market to identify what products and messages can be driven.
The same can be said of your competing brands. Starbucks could very well be taking notes from a domestic operator like The Coffee Club Australia as to their social media presence and see if there are techniques and practices that are helping to boost their standing.
Consider this a cynical talking point, but the best business operators are always ensuring that they are not left behind on trends and evolutions that are taking place. Social media allows these brands to keep their finger firmly on the pulse.
Dismiss the marketing term “brand recognition” at your own peril because behind all the textbook jargon that is associated with it, there is an inherent truth behind the theory. Consumers will subconsciously revert their search and shopping habits to brand messaging that has been fed to them by different points of contact – this is the very foundation in which marketing is base upon.
Social media merely feeds upon this phenomenon by offering their message to platforms that millions of domestic citizens are using on a daily basis. Even if you do not have an exciting new product to launch or a sale to promote, just pushing a testimonial, an article or a questionnaire can be considered a form of brand recognition. Essentially any occasion that places your logo and name in front of a consumer is helping your cause and social media opens up more opportunities and pathways for this to take place.
Points of Contact
You have reach the early point of Friday evening after a hard week’s work and want to relax. Your hunger level is reaching fever pitch and you have settled on some local takeaway pizza to ease yourself into the weekend. After taking to your iPhone for a quick Facebook search, you have found the top three hits for a local pizza outlet. Yet the favourite shop just a couple of blocks from your house has no page, no phone number or no link to their menu. May as well go with the next best option, right?
This is a common occurrence particularly in the hospitality industry with peak periods of lunch and dinner being windows into big business. Customers are hungry, they want quality food but rather than stick to one stubborn choice, they will opt for what is easy and quick to order.
By implementing a URL, a phone number, an address and a menu across Facebook, Google, Twitter and even Instagram, you have eliminated the possibility of losing out on revenue. Give your customer base the best possible opportunity to find you before decrying the shifting sands of traditional marketing vs. social media.
Rather than being distracted by the neat little GIFs, memes, videos and features that makes social media the fun and interactive environment it is, the geo-targeting tools at your disposal makes it a prime vehicle to picking and choosing your demographic. The hardest task in marketing is not only to cater a message that suits the market you are speaking to, but to direct that to specifically the right profile of people – an objective that is rarely reached through traditional platforms.
Take Facebook advertisements as a case study. They have a mode of “boosting” any of your posts to transition it from an in-house page update to a fully-fledged commercial in the space of minutes. By offering a budget of anywhere between $1 to $10 or more a day, you can design an ad that filters viewers by age and location.
Pick anywhere from the 18-30 market, 30 to 65, 65 + or all of the above. Should your operation to attempting to drive South Coast locals to a brand new swimming pool centre for the summer, design a radius that targets Facebook users from the regions of Ulladulla to Wollongong and Nowra.
Google Adwords enables this targeting to also take place, but utilising social media apps that draws attention to your location, demographic and target market only enhances your overall online optimisation performance.
One of the hallmarks of search engine optimisation is the capacity of a domain to bring in traffic from credible external sources. The more clicks you can garner from locations that aren’t illegitimate corners of the web, the better your standing will be on the Google rankings front. Very little will change on this topic in the near future, ensuring that social media hubs are a great mode of enhancing your visibility potential.
Now the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have not always been the favourites of search engines if we take a historical perspective on this correlation. Much like the marketing fraternity, it took some time and algorithm changes before these clicks carried significant currency. Today, posts that link social media content to website content is viewed as key to validating your brand. Subscribers and followers on these outlets are tangible ticks of approval because they are entities that have proven themselves to be genuine online forums, rather than just a short-term trend.
There also happens to be some science behind this link between SEO and social media. Due to the nature of optimisation requiring unique content that comes in a variety of forms, the capacity for YouTube and Facebook to deliver on video, audio, GIFs, memes, image galleries, polls and downloads proves its worth as a means of crafting assets that garners clicks.
Caters To Modern Habits
The top of the agenda when arguing the role of social media in the current commerce landscape is the pure, unadulterated facts. Numbers do not often tell the whole story to leave out a degree of context, but when it comes to the regular visitors of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, there is no escaping from the sheet volume of people that login and actively search. Outside of smartphone use, (a phenomenon that actually overlaps and feeds into social media’s growth) nothing can compare to this boom in 2018.
As per September of 2017, the volume of social media use on a domestic front continues to soar at record levels. Facebook and YouTube share no less than 15 million unique monthly active users, while the likes of Instagram (9 million), LinkedIn (4.2 million), Snapchat (4 million) and Twitter (4 million) also enjoy a healthy share of the social media market.
By choosing to opt out of social media, you are denying your business a free, easy channel of communication that provides various points of contact.
Kieran is the Social Media Manager and SEO Expert at SEO Shark. He is an expert in Social Media, link building, PPC and of course SEO. In his time off work Kieran enjoys reading and playing rugby, as well as following all kinds of sports! You can read some more of his articles here.