The REAL Role of Social Media for Business? Audience Engagement
by Al Gomez
November 2, 2016
in Social Media
It’s no secret that businesses need social networking sites to expand their reach. From brand awareness to getting leads, social media has been crucial for small and big companies worldwide. So it’s not surprising to see startups jump onto the bandwagon – even during the early years of the enterprise.
However, if business owners do NOT understand social media, they won’t be able to maximize this channel. There are countless tales of startups that have tried to amplify their presence on sites like Facebook and Twitter, only to be frustrated by zero return on investments (ROI).
Diving in is not enough. Know the REAL role of social media for business to help you make the most out of your online marketing campaign.
Why Brands Fail on Social Media
Inasmuch as social media can bring hype to any event or promotion, it can also bring about demise. Just ask Coca-Cola, Total Beauty, and Vera Bradley: companies that have failed on one of their marketing campaigns.
Coca-Cola for example, made headlines when they released a Holiday cartoon map of Russia, January of this year. However, trouble brewed when they excluded Crimea – and included it. In the end, the entire post was taken down. It goes to show that highly sensitive topics, such as politics, must be approached with utmost caution. Or in most cases, simply avoided.
Although speed is of the essence online, it won’t hurt to take a minute or two to double-check your post before publishing it. Total Beauty learned this hard lesson when they mistook Whoopi Goldberg for Oprah during the 2016 Oscars. Although the Tweet had been deleted, it already spread in cyberspace. In fact, both Oprah and Whoopi offered their own comments to what happened as news reached them.
When it comes to social media campaigns, expect both good and bad. Such in the case of Vera Bradley when they introduced the #itsgoodtobeagirl campaign to help reach the millennial market. Although the intention was innocent enough, a good number of girls and women took to Twitter to express their disappointment.
The lesson in all of them? Just because you create witty, fresh content does NOT guarantee viral status. It’s people who decide on that. If your audiences do NOT resonate well with your campaign, you have not understood the role of social media for business.
Social Media for Business: It’s All About Audience Engagement
Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are NOT mainly for generating sales. They’re for audience engagement. These are the perfect platforms to reach out to your customers and hear their side.
What do they like or don’t like about your brand or product? Why? Where can you improve on? Businesses should use social media to find out more about their target market – and vice versa.
Here are specific ways to use social media for business:
- Social listening. Just as in real life, people LOVE to talk online. Companies need to listen closely to WHO and HOW people are talking about them on social platforms. Are the conversations positive or negative? Which age groups mention them the most? What aspects of the brand are put on the spotlight? Businesses can gain a LOT of insights by listening first.
- Create appropriate content. After listening, it’s time to make relevant content that audiences want to see. Depending on your research and analysis, it could be articles, video, podcasts, as well as other types of media.
- Interaction. See how audiences respond to your content. Are they sharing, liking, or giving comments? Is the reaction positive or negative? Align the results of your social media campaign with your company objectives. Did it help your brand? If so, in what way?
Those that succeed in social media marketing not only have excellent content that resonates well with audiences, they also know how to take advantage of what’s popular to stay relevant in their niches.
For example: publishing heart-warming content on the holidays is a great way to boost brand awareness and also make a statement.
Coffee giant Starbucks is great at Holiday campaigns. In fact, despite the controversy behind their 2015 Christmas Cups, they still managed to get people to give and receive Starbucks Cards. With a record figure of $1.9 billion loaded into the cards from U.S. and Canada patrons, it seems the social media debate did more good than bad.
Likewise, businesses can leverage social media platforms to launch exciting new products or services. When it comes to the Web, creativity is the key to longevity.
The use of social media for business doesn’t have to be complicated. However, it can be tough to measure results. If you’re interested in starting your own campaign on the Web, talk to a certified expert who can not only give valuable social media tips, but also offer customized assistance.
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