Social to the Rescue
Fortunately, this decline was somewhat mitigated by growth in the online world, with social networking sites like LinkedIn and Twitter acting as a hub for prospects in almost every conceivable sector or marketplace.
Despite exponential growth in these channels over the past few years, our conversations with some senior decision makers reveal that there is still a reluctance to view social media as a viable route to new business. There's a view that only ‘the kids' use these platforms to communicate, but this is not so. Millions of people are on social media - including those who will want to buy your product or service, so why would you not publicise your business to them?
If you're not mastering social media, you are missing out on one of the most important business development platforms available to you. To those individuals who say 'social media is not for business' - just look at every piece of print advertising, direct mail, promotional email or TV ad for the leading global brands and it will say ‘Find us on Facebook and Twitter'. These are businesses just like yours.
What does Social Media Provide?
- A communications tool with unparalleled reach
- The ability to market yourself to prospects 24 hours per day
- The potential for an instant customer service platform
- Intelligence on the sentiment of your target audience
- Key information on competitors
Social media is simply a tool. Business hasn't changed but the way it's carried out online has. There are thousands of social media conversations going on right now. And while you can live without participating, it's likely to have a major impact on how much money you'll make. And given that your competitors are already bound to be jumping on the bandwagon - can you really afford to miss out?
However, we know that making your first forays into any new channel can be daunting, so our advice for nervous newcomers is to LISTEN before you start talking.
Right now, somebody somewhere (or possibly lots of people) is talking about you, your brand, your service or your product. You can't stop this, so you may as well take advantage of the situation and use the chatter on social channels to provide actionable insights into the mind set of your prospects.
Some good starting points include:
1) Monitor what's being said about your industry
- The way social networks are set up makes it easy to find trending topics and discover what is being said about a certain organisation, topic or individual
- Join industry groups and forums on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+
- Follow popular industry blogs and influential individuals.
2) Listen to what's being said about your company
- Google yourself. It's okay, honest! Take note of what results rank highly and how these reflect on your organisation
- The people who are talking about you are worth listening to as they aren't the ones being paid to say nice things.
3) Discover what's being said about your products and services
- How does this relate to what's being said about those of your competitors?
- You may not necessarily like what's being said, but you should probably know! Only then can you take steps to change it
- If you listen you will understand the difference between perception and reality – and this is what will make the real difference to your business.
If you are still reluctant and don't know quite how to get started, remember that social media is a communication tool, not just a broadcast tool. It's about questions and answers. Your customers are asking: “How do I…?” “What's the best xxx ?” “Where can I find ABC?” And if you're the one with the answers to these questions, you'll be well set to benefit from engaging with your prospects and taking advantage of the wide reach of these channels.
However, we're well aware that not everyone has the time and resources to invest in social media marketing campaigns, but fortunately, it's easier than ever to outsource!
So if you're interested in capitalising on the opportunities presented by social, or simply want to improve your online marketing strategy - why not check out our digital PR services or get in touch with RDPR today?
And if you've got any tips on how to get started on social media, or want to share any horror stories of brands who've got it wrong - drop us a line in the comments. We love to hear what you have to say, so don't be a stranger!
We've also put together a new guide for SMEs looking to use online marketing as an effective sales tool, so don't miss out and download it for free today: