What Your Social Presence Says About Your Business

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By Melonie Dodaro

You can tell a lot about a company just by checking out their Facebook or Twitter pages. Customers in 2012 are empowered with extensive and instant resources to research their purchases and they don’t hesitate to use them. Whether it’s checking out product reviews on Amazon, doing a quick Google search or checking your social media profiles, they are going to learn one thing about you very quickly.

Do you care about your customers?

When a prospective customer stumbles across a bare Facebook page with unanswered questions from current customers, no helpful information and the most recent post is from October 2010… they aren’t feeling the love.

A lot of businesses still don’t understand the value or the importance of social media. I often have many of them ask these questions:

Why do we need to add more to our already heavy workload? Whatever happened to the days when email and telephone were enough?

These are reasonable questions that I asked myself in the beginning, but there is a flaw in this thinking. As entrepreneurs, we make money by retaining existing customers and attracting new customers. This means it is essential to be visible where your customers are spending their time. In Canada chances are close to 80% of your target market is spending time on social media sites.

According to comScore, Canada holds the highest worldwide average in average time spent on social networks.

Gaining Credibility On Social Media

If your company isn’t already a household name with a reliable reputation, then you need a way to quickly establish credibility with those who have never heard of you. When social media is used properly, it is potentially one of the most powerful tools for gaining credibility very quickly.

THE OTHER FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR ONLINE CREDIBILITY ARE:

Social proof (Facebook likes, comments, Twitter followers, etc.)
Customer reviews/testimonials
Providing valuable content via blogging

Most entrepreneurs get the shifty eyes when blogging is mentioned because they hear a different word: time. Blogging is extremely powerful because it positions you as the expert and can literally attract your customers to you by providing them solutions to their problems, as long as your blogs are search engine optimized (SEO). You can have the most helpful blog in the world but it won’t help anyone if it can’t be found. 

Where You Get Your ROI

A 2012 study sponsored by Social Media Examiner determined that 85% of marketers indicated their social media efforts have generated more exposure for their businesses and increasing traffic to their website/blog was the second major benefit with 69% reporting positive results. Gaining marketplace insight and generating leads were close behind with 65% and 58%, respectively.

Social media has incredible potential and leverage for building brands and that’s obvious by the results companies are seeing with it. I think any business owner would safely agree that having an active community centered on their brand in the form of a successful Facebook page or Twitter account has clear marketing value. The real struggle for many is achieving that with a reasonable investment of time and money.

If you talk to any great accountant, they will tell you one of the fastest ways to improve your cash flow is by cutting unnecessary expenses. In the case of social media, you have to think about what aspects of it are not serving your end goal and are wasting your time and not resulting in a positive ROI.

Find out where your target market is and focus your time and efforts in those places. If you’re in B2B, it’s important to understand that studies have shown LinkedIn to be 4 times more effective than Facebook or Twitter. These are the types of details that often get missed when businesses evaluate their social media strategy.

Most senior management members have a hard time understand the exact ROI of their social media efforts and only consider the direct dollar value. You’ll continue to struggle to find your exact dollar value in the same way you struggle to find it for improved search rankings on Google, market research, word-of-mouth marketing and even expanded business partnerships. Social media directly effects and improves every one of these areas and more.

“Audiences everywhere are tough. They don’t have time to be bored or brow beaten by orthodox, old-fashioned advertising. We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in & be what people are interested in.”  ~Craig Davis

What Is Going To Get Their Attention?

Out of over 300 million Americans, 200 million are registered on the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. Stats show that over 86% of people skip TV ads and 44% of direct mail is never opened. If you need any more proof that people don’t want to hear or see your advertising, I encourage you to research the declining trends in traditional advertising effectiveness (I’m sure you’re already well aware of it).

A study done by Outbrain found that video is the most popular content type created by brand and agency marketers with an overwhelming 87%. This correlated with a consensus among marketers that the key focus in the future of successful social media marketing strategies will be increasing the use of video and YouTube.

A video can do wonders for building rapport and credibility if there is a real person speaking to the camera. If they like you, they might buy from you. By creating informative and helpful videos that provide solutions to the problems that your customer seeks, you will position yourself as the expert with the right people at the right time.

It’s not just about video, creating all forms of content so prospects can pick their preferred type of media only multiplies your opportunities. The commuter might prefer podcasts in the car or like to read articles on their mobile device on the train while the people at home or work may prefer a video. The more ways you have to communicate, the more attention you will get.

Whatever it is, make it “shareable”. That’s a fancy new word born in the social era completely dedicated to the viral quality of your content. When you sit down and create original content for your business in the form of a blog post, social media status update or video, ask yourself this: Will someone like this enough to want to share it with their friends and family? It’s easier said than done, but the better you get at answering that question, the more results you will see online.

Grow your network with existing connections and customers. This means reaching out to all your current customers to connect with you on Facebook and LinkedIn so you can leverage the network you already have. If you have a loyal customer base already than create an incentive for them to connect with you on social media. Once you’re connected with them you open yourself up to connecting to their networks as their friends notice them interacting with you.

Always think about the brand image your social presence projects to customers. Remember that today’s customer is an informed customer and they want to see that you care about the people who have already bought from you. You can really tell a lot about a company from the way they treat customers after the sale and social media will reveal the truth in seconds, for better or worse. The choice is yours.

Melonie Dodaro, of TopDogSocialMedia.com, is passionate about social media and helps business owners, sales teams and professionals to use social media marketing to boost their visibility, attract new customers and increase their revenue. Dubbed by the media as Canada’s #1 LinkedIn expert and social media strategist, she’s also a highly sought after social media speaker and trainer.  Grab her free special report called The New Rules of Marketing at
TheNewMarketing.ca.

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