Social Media

Social Media and Business – 42

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Many people have a great deal of influence amongst their peers. And a niche forum has a herd power that you may not have expected or been aware of.

When this happens, you lose a certain degree of control. The bottom line is that when you lose these customers and clients to these unknown areas of the internet you want them to leave with good things to say about you. In short, you want everybody to be an evangelist.

The ten percent of dissatisfied customers (if indeed your level is this low) need to be converted at the point of contact that you have with them. This is no easy task but life is harder if it is not attempted. At all times your aim is to increase the people that are willing to give you good reviews and decrease those that have complaints.

Think of traditional advertising and contrast this with social media. With traditional forms of advertising you retain a semblance of control. You decide where to place the ad, what to put in it and who is likely to see it. What you can’t control is how people respond to it.

Now, contrast this with social media where you do not control the conversation which is being had. You don’t provide the information that is being talked about and you can’t control the response that people have. We have discussed this before – the ways in which you can interact with the conversation.

Making good great

The social media landscape has the ability for you to be able to improve the general impressions that relate to your products or services. Provided you do things correctly, the conversations that you engage in can enhance the opinion people have of you and therefore the opinions they have of your products.

Your conversations in the social media milieu can turn a mediocre opinion about your products into a good one and, if you are clever enough, turn a good opinion into a great one. This is something no traditional advert could do.

We have discussed before how problems with your products or services can be identified and rectified simply because of the conversations you might be having. It is like having a customer service department for all to see.

Turning good into great demands more than you just being there. You may need to survey your customers before embarking upon a social media campaign. If you don’t then how do you know how well you are doing?

Social Media and Business – 26

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So we are working towards a form of social networking that demands a number of features. The first is being able to trust in whatever is offered. No more bland advertising and biased promotion. Consumers are the kings in the provision of a balanced viewpoint and they are perfectly willing to accept negativity provided the positive aspects are relevant and appropriate for them.

The next demand is that of respect. Consumers see themselves no longer as a pawn in a game of chess but as a living, breathing and dynamic entity that are able to make decisions for themselves. They are able to weigh up the good and bad in any situation and to come to a wholesome decision-making position.

Lastly consumers are looking for truth. Whilst adverts are not necessary lying, they do bend the truth a bit. Washing “whiter than white” is clearly not true for soap powders but is acceptable as a marketing ploy. Now, downright lies about a product or service will be met with the disdain they deserve by all consumers.

All of this serves simply to underline the fact that consumers are having a massive and perpetual meeting around the world in their own time to have frank and unbiased conversations about you, your company, your products and/or services.

Whatever you do, it will still be happening, they will still talk. The conversations may be surrounded by trivia, they may be intertwined with the ramblings of the day, they may be shielded, hidden or covert. But they are there.

By not being present yourself you are endorsing the negativity that is being spoken about you. You are missing out on the opportunities that are available for you to promote your products or services in the way that consumers are looking for. You now have a chance to be part of this global conversation.

Social Media and Business – 25

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We have seen how word of mouth is a powerful influence upon people. But just how this interacts with your business plan is a little more tricky to visualise. Yes, social media sites have a large part to play in the present climate. But simply being a part of one or more of them does not make it any more likely that you will be able to turn a profit.

Where exactly does transparency fit in? How exactly do you gain trust? What are the rights and wrongs of using social media and how can you ensure that any investment is going to be repaid in full?

There are precedents for changing from traditional advertising to other modalities. Amazon has long since abandoned the traditional advertising campaigns of other companies. Yet they remain one of the most successful global companies on the planet.

But look more closely at their website and you will see that they do interact with their customers quite widely. Every product has not only a description provided by Amazon but also actual reviews by customers that have used the product.

These reviews are not always positive and Amazon gladly accepts both positive and the negative viewpoints. It is a strong form of social proof.

A camera may not get five stars and a glowing reference from everybody. But out of 100 users, if 90 of them say that it’s a good camera but only 10% say they had trouble, then the 90% win. The potential customer is more likely to buy in this sort of scenario. Amazon simply provides the platform by which this is done.

Amazon is canny. They provide an additional platform and are among the pioneers in doing so in this way. That is, a review and rating system.

Each product can be rated and commented on by users and purchasers. This not only provides the necessary social proof or word of mouth that we are talking about but it also provides Amazon with a semblance of independence and distance from the product itself.

In effect, Amazon provides the platform on which the product or service is illustrated but the users provide the social proof.

Social Media and Business – 24

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The user determines what they wish to see and when to switch on or off. They generate their own content but also generate their own choices on what to view. It makes sense, therefore, to consider switching from traditional, more expensive advertising platforms to social media platforms that have added benefits (provided the ROI can be assumed similar or improved).

We can see, therefore, that the main problem now is that users are generating their own visibility. No longer is a business going out to customers and dragging them in. Users are deciding what to look at, what to share and what to talk about. Therefore, the challenges come from the users themselves and not from rivals or competitors.

Concept of our customer

Do you have any idea who your customers are? How do you view your customers? Do consider them to be the pivotal aspect of your business? Or perhaps you see them as a target of your advertising or marketing campaigns. Do you see them as objects of profit?

As we consider each of these choices remember that the degree of consumer resistance is now increasing. Note that it is the customer that is in command and who is making the choices.

With the customer liberty that social media seems to have spawned, we are seeing now that they are more averse to traditional advertising methods. Even on social media it is commonplace for people to disbelieve and voice their dislike of advertising.

Twitter, a microblogging platform, has, for a long time, withheld from advertising because of the risk of losing users (amongst other reasons). Many uses have stated that if advertising is introduced then they will leave the platform altogether.

This may, of course, be an idle threat but also needs to be closely considered. The power of Twitter depends upon the user base. The power of your company is also similarly dependent.

This is not to say that advertising has no value whatsoever. Of course it does and it is still a multibillion dollar industry. But now consumers are increasingly seeing advertising as just a simple method to get more information – creating an awareness rather than a sale. The verification of whether to purchase or not is now more dependent upon, not the ad itself but by the social proof that social media networks provide.

Social Media and Business – 23

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It is always wise and valuable to be aware of what is being said about you even if you do not interact. It gives you an opportunity to be forewarned about possible problems and difficulties. It gives you the opportunity to monitor the situation and make changes to your business that can help in the future.

Awareness gives you a head start over your competitors and makes you more in tune about what is going to come up within your social media conversations.

It should never be forgotten that word of mouth is a very powerful force. From the very time of our childhood, often despite evidence to the contrary, we have believed and trusted in what people have said.

We trust people before we distrust them. This is especially so when there is no profit or gain to be had. A person says something is good or bad, perhaps relating to a product or service, and we immediately take that as gospel truth.

Our own experiences will, of course, modify our opinion but that, in itself, is not justification for dismissing, out of hand, the views of others.

The trust factor is important for your business as well. Are you claiming something about your product or service that is simply not true? Are you providing information that is misleading or biased?

Sooner or later your consumer, and their global network of friends, will find you out so it is best not to act like this right from the outset. Saying you are the “best” at something or that your offer is the “highest quality” is not likely to be greeted with trust.

However, saying that you goofed up or made a mistake will give you much more credibility and trust in the marketplace. You are, after all, considering the needs and wants of your consumers.

Many businesses are losing out on advertising by utilising outmoded and expensive modalities when they could be using social media platforms instead. TV and radio, newspapers and magazines are very passive advertising platforms whereas social media is interactive and accessible by all.

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