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This week I attended the Smarter Business Tech Live event at the Manchester Central Complex. As with any event like this, the usual companies laid out their stalls and the staging areas were bristling with guest speakers ready to divulge the secrets of their specific field of expertise.
Whilst I managed to speak to a variety of businesses about their wares, the talks appeared to be the big draw of this event. In particular, the social media talks were always a full house.
So what is this social media malarkey? Why is it important? It appears that a lot of businesses are cottoning onto the fact that social media is playing a bigger part in the customer journey as time goes on and the later you arrive to the party, the harder it will be to get into the swing of things.
The one thing that appeared to be consistent throughout all the talks I heard was the benefits that social media brings. Admittedly, the ROI can be difficult to quantify in certain circumstances so that begged the question, how can it be important if there is no tangible evidence of its benefits?
If sales are the only way you intend to measure your social presence, then you are doomed to failure. As explained in the talks, the sales process has changed dramatically in the last 10 years with the advent of social media. Whereas the old way of doing things included picking an item you wished to purchase/service you wish to seek and perhaps going into town to a few stores that stocked the goods to compare prices and examine the product. Finally, the customer would maybe discuss their purchase with their friends in the pub to get their opinion as to whether the product was worth buying or not and eventually make a decision to buy.
Nowadays, people don’t even have to leave their home to do all of this thanks to mobile browsing. Through the power of social media, customers can seek reviews and opinions about a product from their peers. During the researching process, customers are now able to scour the whole of the UK and beyond to find the best prices and reviews of a product.
Another reason that consumers also rely on social media and the web is the level of trust they put into their online communities and the opinions they espouse. It’s this trust that social media taps into, it can help your company get a strong foothold amongst your customers.
It’s impossible to break down an entire social media strategy into a tiny blog post but the basics are quite simple to grasp and implement. The main aim of a social media presence is to connect with your customers on a social level, to let them see you as human rather than a soulless, corporate entity. The best way to do this is to understand your audience. Find out what makes them tick, what they enjoy and what they share and then start to implement that into your social media accounts. Find out what sorts of questions they are asking online and create content that answers those questions. Whilst showing them your human side online, you also need to show them that you add value to their social time, not only with interesting content, but also useful content. Get involved in discussion on hot topics and share good news about your customers or their local areas.
The trend amongst all the advice I heard was to make sure that you are giving them good quality content. No one wants to follow a company that spends all day talking about themselves and promoting their business, that’s what TV ads are for and consumers are slowly but surely seeing this type of invasive advertising as non-engaging, an authoritarian attempt to coerce them into making a purchase. Social Media on the other hand, gives everyone a chance to have their voice heard and for companies to hear them. It allows companies to discuss their new product, answer any questions about it and ask for opinions on it.
Who Can Help Me?
It’s this interactivity that keeps business flowing, that keeps the social media channels alive and helps build community awareness of your brand. This is something that isn’t going to change any time soon. If you want to keep up to date with the joneses and push your business forward then you will have to embrace the social. Many places offer social media training courses, easily found by a quick search on the web. A great place to start out is Googles Digital Garage where you can access free courses on everything from search to social media to help build your business or career.
Free services like this are a no brainer if your company is new to social media, they offer great advice and support. At the end, you’ll also receive a certificate to confirm your new social media credentials!
More information on Googles Digital Garage can be found here.
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