In today’s world of social connectivity, brands have an ability to communicate with their audiences like never before. Some businesses have questioned the role of social media in recent years, but we are now reaching a stage where its importance simply cannot be debated. Effective use of social networks must now be deeply rooted into the marketing mix of all brands.
As the number of users accessing social media networks on a daily basis continues to grow, the potential reach for businesses becomes ever greater. According to Social Media Examiner’s End of Year Report (2013), 86% of marketers acknowledge the importance of social media for their business.
Social media use continues to grow
The number of users who connect to social networks on a regular basis has continued to rise to the present day, and there are no signs that this trend will seize. Twitter reported 255 million monthly active users for Q1 2014, which represents a 5.8% growth rate over the 241 million monthly active users the preceding quarter. Solidifying this trend further, Facebook experienced another substantial rate of growth in monthly active users in 2013. The growth in user numbers since the social network launched is clearly demonstrated by the image below.
The numerous benefits of engaging in social media
Given the increasingly intertwined nature of social networks with businesses’ marketing activities, the benefits of engaging in social media communications are numerous and widespread. Without an effectively managed social presence, businesses stand to miss out on the following benefits.
Display brand personality - Social networks give businesses an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate their brand image and core values to consumers.
Expand reach – Provoking engagement with consumers on social networks helps businesses put their brand in front of a much broader audience.
Increase website traffic – An increased social following will inevitably increase click-through rates to your website.
Communicate with customers – The casual environment created by social networks makes them a popular channel for consumers to communicate with brands. Taking the time to personally respond to a consumer will undoubtedly increase brand loyalty.
Relatively low-cost – In contrast to the other forms of advertising, social networks provide businesses with an effective and affordable option. Although paid advertising is often required to generate quicker results, a lot can be gained through the basic social functions.
Business opportunities – Social networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, provide major networking hotspots for many industries. Connecting and sharing content with potential clients develops new relationships, creating opportunities for lucrative business relationships to prosper.
Valuable market insight – The value of market data is obvious when you consider the value of global giants, such as Facebook and Google. Major social networks provide businesses with highly detailed analytics, providing invaluable information on the behaviour, interests and demographics of their target markets.
The evolving landscape of branding
When formulating a marketing strategy, the most crucial consideration for businesses is how they can most effectively connect with their target audience. As more and more people jump on the social media bandwagon, the potential for businesses becomes ever greater. There is no doubt about it; the days of traditional marketing methods (e.g. TV, radio, newspaper adverts) are numbered and businesses must now divert their focus towards digital channels.
Your social strategy
With such great potential in social media marketing, it is important that you make a comprehensive plan of your social strategy from the outset. Firstly, you must establish which of the various social networks will be of most value to your business. Have a look at what your competitors are using and find out where other industry players are socialising. Whereas one business may be suitable for LinkedIn, another might benefit substantially more through Twitter.
Once you have selected the most appropriate networks for your business, the final step is to outline your content strategy. Consider the overall brand image which you are portraying and make sure all social communications are consistently aligned. Completely fill out your social profiles with this brand image in mind, displaying your brand’s character wherever possible.