As we saw in a previous post, there were 80 million users of social networks in 2008, forecasted to increase to 115 million in four years. In addition, according to Media6degrees, a consumer who is connected to a customer is 2 to 30 times more responsive to promotions. These numbers alone should establish the benefits to a business. You need to be where your customers are.
Social Media is about relationships, about people talking to each other. Using Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing, you promote your brand by getting people to talk about your brand. The more people talk to each other, the further your brand will travel.
Joining conversations with your customers builds trust relationships and customer loyalty. Using honesty and respect, bidirectional non-marketing speak and a willingness to teach and learn on an equal basis is important because customers buy from the businesses they trust.
In addition to forming trust relationships with your customers, involving them directly in product development benefits innovation cycles. A community of a thousand passionate customers often generate out-of-the-box amazing ideas, which narrows the focus and speeds product development, (“wisdom of crowds”). The advantage of listening covers all areas of a business including product development, marketing and support. Customers have great ideas and you would be crazy not to listen.
Using Social Media, you send a strong message that you are a hot, cutting edge, forward leaning company, on the forefront of a social movement. You are willing to take risks. Depending on your market vertical and your products and services, this benefit might be more or less important to you.
An active social networking community help raise your search rank based on incoming links. This is important for driving new traffic to your web site.
The bottom line is that businesses today need to be part of the social media movement. This might be done in small doses like creating a company group and employee profiles on LinkedIn. Or, it might involve establishing large social network communities on all major social networks, employee blogs and customer forums. The important take-away is that if you are not Social today, you need to be Social tomorrow.
Comments is a fundamental part of social media, so do your social duty and add a comment with your thoughts.