Google before you tweet is the new think before you speak. It is no longer a question about whether you need to be on social media, but about how you will make it work for you in an effective manner. Social media thrives on content, be it earned, owned or paid; interaction, individualisation, integration, and more.
Often, I’m asked by brand custodians whether social media is right for them and what value it would bring. Identifying the current business problem is often the best way to begin evaluating and suggesting the reasons to be on social media and the approach to take for gaining optimum value. Here are a few ways in which social media can positively work for your brand:
• Building brand awareness: Whatever you do, don’t miss out on social media’s impending factor to help increase your brand recognition and grow your business. While the practical application of social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more may differ from brand to brand, the overall value remains the same. Understanding which networks are vital for your brand strategy and creating personalised experiences for each would get you to see the returns you desire. Work with your team to develop a strategy that works for you and relentlessly pursue it throughout the year.
• Value-driven outreach: If you’re a new business, social media is the most fundamental way of connecting with your audience and getting your brand out there. Given the entry barriers and cost advantage it offers over other marketing channels, it tends to be a preferred primary route of marketing for startups and small businesses.
Cost-effectiveness and an amplified route towards customer identification, interactions, conversions and increasing evangelism makes social media highly advantageous to brands. Local brands such as Chumbak and Urban Ladder have created benchmarks for ROI-driven social media strategies.
• Reputation management: Marketers in the service industry often question whether social media marketing initiatives would increase negative feedback to a greater level, hence impacting decisions by prospective customers. What many miss is that it is better to be on social media and address negative feedback versus shying away from it and letting it blow out of proportion, thereby impacting the overall reputation of the brand. Social media enables you to receive feedback and respond to it in the fastest way. A brand with a healthy response management team is known to receive higher credibility and sales through social media. You must invest in garnering feedback towards understanding what your customers want and leverage credible testimonials towards capitalising on word-of-mouth marketing.
• Driving consumer insights: Consumers today are discussing brands, companies, and experiences on social media real-time. Social media tools and insight-driven organisations are helping businesses gather and decode high levels of data which can be used towards business advantage in the form of devising new strategies and launching new products or services.
• Image refurbishing: If you’ve been in the business too long and aspire to revamp your appeal, social media can come to your rescue. Brands that stay away from social media are unable to grow and keep up with moving times or the mindsets of the younger generation which is responsible for various purchase decisions in a family and plays the role of a successful brand outreach evangelist to drive larger awareness. A young, fresh communication route that appeals to audiences on social media with a personal connect through memory lane is a balance that’s best created to tap on your loyal base and draw in new ones too.
• Drive return on investment: If done right, social media provides you with excellent return on your investment (ROI) in the form of footfalls and sales. Most brands get busy promoting their offers and deals, missing out on the opportunity to build a connect with their fans. That’s one reason why they don’t get adequate ROI. You must invest time to tell your story before you focus on a call to action in the form of dial-in numbers or linkbacks. A well defined media plan and content story have proven returns for startups that drive a 100 percent of their sales through social media.
Social media is empowering brands to be experimental, pioneering, relevant, and engaging at a level more than any other form of marketing today. In order to gain the success a brand desires, setting a clear vision and acquiring constant insights is as important as investing adequate time with the right teams that would help leverage the power of social media for you.
-By Zafar Rais - CEO, MindShift Interactive
The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.
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