Let's play a game of truth or dare.
Truth: How many times have you checked your personal social media outlets today? This week? This month?
Chances are if you knew the real answer, you wouldn't want us to know.
Which brings me to point number one.
1) Social media is inescapable, even to ourselves.
The fact is that people are always on it, whether or not they realize they're refreshing tabs or tapping apps a little more often than they think. Given its rapid, time-sensitive nature, social media never sleeps. With mobile notifications, email updates, screen popups, and other calls to action, it can sometimes seem as though moments without them are just a brief pause in one never-ending social stream.
The truth is that people are always looking for a distraction. A follow-up question to my initial 'truth' could be this: How often do you check your social media outlets at work? While waiting in line? In bed? It's become the go-to standard for quick and simple engagement. From a business standpoint, we're seeing increasing reliance on social methods: from hashtags on major campaigns to the influx of barcode scanning apps, so many products from all facets of life are pushing you to go social. It's time to work with the tide instead of against it.
2) Social media puts a face (or rather, a voice) to the name.
In our modern world of massive conglomerates and B2C impersonalization, customers long for the nostalgic nurturing from mom-and-pop shops and small-town communities. Just like in Cheers, sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name--and an individualized, human experience is the route to take if you want to retain customers for the long haul.
Take, for instance, the recent one of Social Media Today's very own contributors with food delivery app EAT24. The contributor tagged EAT24 in a tweet regarding her #FridayNightIn, to which she unexpectedly found herself in a witty dialogue with one social coordinator behind the company. This back and forth produced a genuine connection and multiple laughs between the two parties--and later to a wider audience via her blog post--prompting our dear contributor to rave about the company to her friends (and readers), thus generating a more loyal and devoted customer base. Word of mouth--or chirp of tweet--recommendations work wonders by organically stimulating existing users and converting them into committed fans.
3) Social media provides exposure for your website, which is one step closer to your ultimate goal.
As elemental as social media is for a brand's success these days, your website remains at the top of the proverbial totem pole. Your business must put its website content at the forefront of all digital efforts, as it functions as the authoritative foundation of your brand. Use your existing social media outlets to work in sync with this goal by posting links, media, and other content that will redirect traffic back to your website instead of relying solely on external mediums. If specific creative content can't find its perfect niche on your official site, consider adding a company blog under your domain. Oftentimes you'll discover that a company blog may be the best social tool in your arsenal.
While the big names serve as excellent platforms for gaining initial exposure and promoting pertinent updates, a cohesive, collected, centralized community must be established in order to maximize growth to its fullest potential. spot.IM, the first 'anywhere' social network, is a wonderful tool to do exactly that: by spurring engaging dialogue within the onsite channels, you keep your customers both active and informed while simultaneously boosting retention rates, providing greater exposure to all onsite content, and measuring analytics on your key audiences.
4) Social media is a democratic platform that allows direct communication between users big and small.
The advent of social media has worked wonders for B2C communication, eradicating the need for middlemen like assistants, managers, or agents for a fan or customer's voice to be heard. Any Average Joe has the ability to write a relevant post tagging a major brand or figure; if the content catches its desired attention, a social coordinator or the intended figure himself can respond instantly. This type of access is one of the biggest draws of social media, reifying the notion that the internet brings people closer together.
Furthermore, social media often helps to build a rapport with the tastemakers and thought leaders within your community in order to establish your company's reputation. These relationships will situate your brand as a top player in its industry, leading to heightened recognition and organic growth.
5) Social media assigns cultural relevancy to our world at large.
For better or for worse, social media plays a pivotal role in shaping today's cultural conversation. The majority of your followers will be up to date on the latest trending and viral content, and your business can take advantage of this fact by contributing to the buzz, thereby maintaining online relevancy. As with attracting any new customer, it's always helpful to refer to something with which he is already familiar or something you share in common.
Take for instance Summer 2014's infamous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. An entire movement was generated to promote awareness for the disease and raise funds for the cause, resulting in 1.2 million Facebook videos and 2.2 million tweets within a matter of weeks. From a business perspective, this kind of participation will elevate the ethos of your company by showing the goodwill and social nature of your team members. You're giving a much-needed personal touch to your company by aligning your members within the greater social sphere.
One last thing to keep in mind is that not all social media is created equal. Once you get your feet wet in the social sphere, do some research before testing the waters to see which stream is right for you. Sometimes your needs can be fit into 140 characters, while other times a less structured medium can work to your advantage. Once you start to paddle out into the tide, you'll find yourself floating in no time.
Oh... did you think I forgot about the dare?
I dare you to take your business social, watch it grow, and tell me just how well it worked in the comments below.
Infographic credit: Leverage New Age Media