The value of Social Media

The value of Social Media for business Given the small percentage of people in South Africa with access to a computer you may ask why you should bother to invest precious time, energy and money in making sure your business has an engaging online presence?

There is a simple answer, to keep up.

The growth of the internet has changed the way people communicate, the way they shop and indeed the way they live. Communities that naturally form around a shared interest are no longer confined to one country, let alone destination – the world is getting smaller and the way people shop is changing.

Out of an estimated 34 million adult South Africans, 6 million use a computer to access the internet, compared to 12 million who go online via mobile phone. Consider also that online retail sales tipped a 30% growth for 2010 where as traditional retail saw only 7% and the signs all indicate that people are looking to the internet for their information and ultimately, their shopping needs.

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are just a few of the tools that can be used in a social marketing campaign but I am often asked why they are so important, what can really be done with them that is truly worth the effort? Here are 5 beneficial uses for an effective social media campaign that will add significant value to your business:

RESEARCH

Gain insight into your customer profile or into an area of interest.

The most progressive and interesting market research can be found online within the social communities. Here your customers interact, share information and make recommendations. By listening effectively to your customer base as they communicate in any given forum, you can monitor trends and stay on top of their needs and wants, not to mention participate (and therefore influence the conversation) all in REAL time.

BRAND AWARENESS

Broaden your horizons and broaden your consumer scope.

Generating a buzz about your business is simple if you know who you are targeting. It is also important to remember that whilst you are sleeping the world carries on interacting online. It is necessary to monitor what is happening at any given time, especially if you are hoping to reach international customers. That doesn’t mean keeping staff 24 hours a day; any conversation that could be taking place about your brand can be tracked and monitored, allowing you to act effectively. By paying attention to the needs of your customer you can interact in a positive way.

PROMOTIONS

Create excitement around your brand, and have fun doing it.

Ideal for products, services, even events; educating customers and building awareness is an important part of converting customers and once you have established the right sites and times to generate a buzz about your company, then you will be able to use your marketing budget more effectively. Advertising on social media is micro specific. You can choose when and for how long your ad shows, you can target specific users, you can set a budget on how much you pay or how many ads you run and the results are visible rapidly.

SEO & LINK BUILDING

Socialise your way to Page 1 on Google

‘Search engine optimisation’ is about making sure that the engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing find your site and like it. There are many ways to ensure your site ticks all the right boxes and one of them is by having other sites/people endorse it by linking to it. Links build more traffic. It is that simple.

GENERATE TRAFFIC

More feet mean more opportunities to sell.

If you are selling something then a high volume of visitors is often essential. By contributing to the social community you will raise the profile of your product, improve visibility but most of all, lay a foundation of credibility about you (as an expert) your company and your product. Writing articles, volunteering tips and giving advice not only establishes you in your customers mind, but again, improves your SEO (which means more visits). More visits is more potential customers, more sales opportunities and increased exposure leading to more visits and so on and so forth.

So there you have it, hopefully this gives you a little insight into the value of social media interaction and how it can benefit you. I strongly suggest that you consider carefully before ignoring this sector of the marketing community and if you need more information, then hey, just look me up on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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