Wednesday, February 19, 2014

4 Hidden Benefits of Social Media for Your Business

By now, we’ve all set up professional Facebook and Twitter accounts, separate from our personal ones. It’s commonplace to find a company sharing, tweeting, and pinning about what’s happening. For some, this might seem like an uncomfortable intrusion. Others know it’s a valuable tool allowing companies to get in front of new audiences and to engage customers. Yet, you might be missing out on some valuable benefits.
toolspicture 637x441 4 Hidden Benefits of Social Media for Your Business
Social media provides great entertainment and a form of distraction for all of us, but from a professional perspective it comes with some questions. Someone should be thinking about what return you’re getting on this daily investment. Time and resources of all sorts are subject to scrutiny; when it comes to marketing dollars, you’ll need to be able to justify the money. Even the brands with the biggest followings and most engagement must continue to fight to stay relevant. Imagine what that means for all of the other companies out there struggling to make a dent and establish themselves as social media players.
Exposure isn’t enough. Conversions are hard to come by. So what else is there? Here are four suggestions of areas that your brand can turn social media into real-world improvements:

1. Fundraising

For new businesses, look at how effectively a Kickstarter campaign can take off. Although Kickstarter isn’t itself a social platform, social media is a channel to help spread the word. Not everyone is going to want to open their pocketbooks to you, especially at first. However, if you maintain a strong social presence, your name can become synonymous with success, making fundraising that much easier. Social media can be a portal to drive more than awareness. 

2. Thought Leadership

You’re already sharing articles that appeal to you. Awesome, but are you following your industry’s big shots through social media? Even if those folks don’t know or notice you themselves, you can influence how your followers think about your brand by quoting these influencers, and even just by retweeting them. The goal is to pair yourself up with the people who drive thought leadership in your field, and beyond. That’s what Warby Parker has achieved thought its Facebook page, by pairing its frames with records and books that the brand hopes to associate with itself. It’s not just about selling glasses – it is about selling a lifestyle.

3. Sales

How can you improve the process for the consumer? Make a compelling offer with a strong call to action directly in your feed. Check out how JetBlue uses its Twitter feed to direct you to their registration pages. This might seem like a more daring approach than some would recommend, but if you believe in your product’s ability to sell itself around cost and convenience, then all you really have to do is get it in front of the targeted audience. With a strong message, you can do that, skipping the traditional middle step. Most important is that people feel there’s a value in clicking through, and not that they’re being sold to. If done clumsily, that can turn people off.

4. Referrals

Social media is meant to be social, and the best and cheapest way to use these platforms is to rely on others to do the work for you. Start by offering customers prizes and discounts for  sharing positive experiences on social media and recommending your brand to their friends. This is one area where it’s worth offering discounts because each person can open doors to a slew of others. Gilt built their brand, at least partially, around the promise of high-quality items thanks to virtual-based, word-of-mouth marketing. A look at their Twitter feed shows their commitment to customer service and giving value.

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