Social Media

Social Media and Business – 21

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There is also much to glean from the conversations that individuals are having on the social media sites themselves. Just as if you are overhearing the conversation at a party, you can find out about what people find important and valuable in their lives. If these relate to a product or service that you are providing then this can be valuable for yourself in the future.

Just by interacting with their conversation you can find out, without promotion, what their concerns and expectations are. You can ask “why?” or “how?” This is powerful stuff

When broken down into its constituent parts, the social media conversation is little more than normal conversation on a global scale. 10 years ago, these sorts of conversations could not be had other than face to face or on the telephone.
Now our conversation can be distributed around the world in real time and answers to questions or difficulties are at the consumers’ fingertips.

But you should always consider and remember that you do not have to be there for these conversations to occur. If fact, they will occur whether you are there or not.

Your mere appearance won’t stop any judgments made about you. Conversely, your absence simply adds to any feeling of distrust that might have arisen. So, if conversations about you are happening all the time then surely it is best for you to be there to hear them and interact with them

Social Media and Business – 20

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Websites such as Amazon (www.amazon.com) provide user friendly reviews of products or services. And, of course, emerging social media gives consumers that interactive social proof that they so often look for before embarking upon a purchase.

The main difference is that consumers are now trying to find out whether the experiences of others are good or bad before making a purchase. No longer are they relying or trusting the words of the businesses themselves.

There is a certain amount of distrust concerning what a company is likely to say about their goods. There is a realisation that there is bound to be a natural bias. This bias is not perceived to exist on the social web even though, of course, it does.

But, as we saw before, any individual is more likely to buy if somebody else is giving a recommendation and especially if via a broad summary of their experience.

There is something that still applies as before. Businesses need to know what consumers want before they can provide for them. Traditional market research still applies but now can be used in the social media framework.

There are now interactive surveys and quizzes that can provide companies with extra information that is both valuable and timely for their needs. Companies are increasingly aware that providing an incentive to complete these surveys and questions can be advantageous and rewarding.

Social Media and Business – 19

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It is not that the consumers are not buying anything, it is just that they are selecting what to buy and when. We are less likely to make our decisions based on an advert that we haven’t asked for and more likely to make them based upon what our friends and acquaintances have to say and combining that with our own investigations into the products and services concerned.

The consumers are buying based on endorsements from other people. Social media has a large part to play in selecting and acting on these endorsements.

There is evidence also that consumers are performing a lot of investigation into products or services before making purchases. Now the internet is able to give us plenty of information about almost anything you can think of.

Consumers can spend time on an array of websites, finding information of all sorts. Specifications can be found from traditional retailers who are now providing extra information about products or services.

Only recently I bought a refrigerator. Not only did I see it and touch it in the store but I checked it out online. There I found out its size, weight, energy consumption, capacity and features. I was able to see a 3D animation of the product and compare it to other similar refrigerators. I also read reviews from people that had bought the product and used that particular company. The item was rated using a series of stars.

The product looked suitable in the store but my investigations showed me more information about it and told me what the experiences of others were. I bought it based on the latter.

Social Media and Business – 17

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Some of my friends, particularly older ones, have a brand loyalty that is unshakeable. But being a good business demands more than simply providing platitudes such as a polite “good morning” or “good afternoon”. It demands you being there and understanding the difficulties and challenges that your customer or potential customers are facing.

But this all also demands time and expense. Engaging usefully in social media is not an easy route to follow and requires some forward planning and investment. We are not dealing with a simple Twitter page or a Facebook account. We are dealing with deeper issues here.

You will need to be able to detect when people are talking about your products or services. You need to have a radar to be able to seek out the needs of your customers and learn how your competitors are reacting to the same, or similar, problems. A sea change is needed.

Many businesses use traditional advertising found in newspapers, directories, on TV and on radio. Ignoring the fact that the number of people using these modalities is in decline, these are expensive ways in which to advertise.

Consumers are averse to advertisements in their faces. They will turn the page in the newspaper or switch channels and find that advertising is delivered in a way that removes them of any control.

This is the new mode of advertising. We are not saying that the old modes have no value, of course they have. But the new social media advertising premise is that the user controls what they see and interact with.

They can choose what they want to do and when. It is not under the control of the business. The user modifies what they want to do and when according to the time and interest available, their perception of value and other issues yet to be identified.

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