I am always questioned at workshops or at sales pitch “Why Should We Invest in Social Media Marketing?” I thought of answering this on my blog to address the inquisitive mind globally. The world today is getting more and more dependent on the internet. More and more studies indicate that a lot of people make important decisions researching them first online. Research also indicates that people depend on other people’s experiences to make decisions on products and services. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other such social media, information travels around the world much faster. Therefore, today social media has become an important medium for many brands.
When we look at social media, it is important to understand why social media has become a crucial necessity, for most entrepreneurs and businesses.
• Credibility to the Visibility: Using social media as a medium, products and services get better visibility and credibility. This, however, is tricky because it is not just important to appear online, one must ensure to be included as a positive option in front of sites. Search Engines definitely give you good visibility but connecting your website to social media channels builds credibility. The more popularity and information is available online, the more the chances are for sales and business. For example: If someone lands up to your site via Google and the person happens to see your well managed facebook, twitter, blog and other social media account integrated with your site with quality information and conversation the person might either connect you there or can request you for service on the basis of the credibility he/she builds.
• Search enhancement: This is an important part of using social media. When a user is searching for any information online, let’s say using search options like Google, it is very important that he/she get to your page as quickly as possible. This is because as much as the user searches for information, he/she is usually looking for top results and positive opinions. Today, people just do not search on Google or other popular search engines. Their search is extended to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Youtube and Flickr search. People would want to read the humanized aspects of the brand and not the promotional materials. The search on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is extensively known to be “Social Search” where people search other people by defining their qualities. Also, Bing and Google have recently confirmed that links shared through Twitter and Facebook have a direct impact on search engine rankings of your website or blog.
• Customer service: Gone are the days when there are little or no communication exchanges between sellers and buyers. In today’s world people want to contribute to the growth of a product or service. Today, the customer wants to be a part of the developing process and also ensure that their voice is heard regardless of positive or negative. Social Media is extensively used for Customer Service. For example: Comcast (TV Service Providers in US) listens to customers concern on twitter and offers a support system via the same. Similarly, Airtel, FlyKingfisher, Cafe Coffee Day in India immensely use Twitter to address customer queries and avail them quick feedback. Remember, calling or writing emails is a tedious process for many in comparison with just tweeting with 140 characters and get the problem solved.
• Instant dissemination: As much as your product may be great or useful, with all the inventions that are taking place and the competition that prevails in today’s world, it is up to you to ensure that your information reaches its appropriate or probable user; and more importantly reaches him/her as fast as possible. With an advent of Social Networking sites you can make your information reach to your target audience with few seconds. Whereas, Search Engine Optimizing your website may require a lot of time to obtain visibility. Today, popular brands such as Subway, Coke, Dell, Ford etc. use Social Media in order to generate awareness in fraction of seconds. The content disseminated via Social Media just does not create awareness, but also makes it conversable and go viral.
• Cheaper, yet effective: Creating a brand using social media is a inexpensive option because most of the services that are used by perspective buyers are either free or come at a marginal rate. If the brand has some goodwill there is every chance that the information will spread like wild fire. Moreover, the reach of this medium is cheaper only after a complete Social Media practise for year. It is essential for people to understand, Social Media definitely needs investment to build community, build interesting contents, for a conversational and engaging model. The ROI of this medium is yet not well defined but people who have been practising Social Media Marketing have been satisfied with the positive impact on brand equity.
There are no ifs and buts on why social media is important. However, it is important to realize that social media is not a quick game, it is certainly not as easy as setting up a Facebook account and hoping it will receive hits. Social Media Marketing is a strategic process. To leverage the Social Media and its potential before using it at large level you can personally use Social Media for a month or two to interact with your target audience. Remember, Social Media can Make or Break a brand. So, whether you are there or not, customers will still talk about you! It is better to be there, listen to them and get the feedbacks sorted.