Most businesses are keenly aware of the necessity of establishing an online presence in the form of a website. In fact nearly 2/3 of Britain’s adults purchase goods and services online. Britain leads the developed world in the ratio of online to high street shoppers.
Though they may be aware of the need to create a business-specific website, however, many businesses have yet to harness the power of social networks which can drive traffic to their websites. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are four of the largest social networking platforms, and most businesses could benefit by establishing an active presence on one or more of them.
It is important to note that every business should establish a specific social media strategy. This includes defining goals and avenues to achieve them. Those goals should be specific, concrete, and measurable.
Measuring “engagement”, though a popular concept thrown about loosely among marketing neophytes, is an extraordinary nebulous and ill-defined concept. Unless the number of Facebook fans, number of blog comments, or number of re-tweets leads directly to increased conversions once those people reach your website (if they ever do), their “engagement” is meaningless to your financial bottom line.
Alternatively, consider the value of data you gather in terms of conversions before and after a carefully crafted “tweet” (a message sent to Twitter followers by your business). If your sales on widgets increase dramatically after you tweet a coupon code for discounted widgets to your Twitter followers, you have very good reason to suspect your strategy is working. If, on the other hand, that tweet is “re-tweeted” (shared by others on Twitter) often, but no change in sales is noted, you may be on the wrong track.
Understanding what social network to use is critical. Social network guides abound, but below you will find a brief explanation of what we believe to be the major four platforms (for business), and why you may or may not want to participate there.
Facebook is by far the largest social networking platform on the planet. For most businesses, establishing a presence there is important. Interestingly, if your primary purchasers are teenagers, a Facebook presence is probably much less important than it once was. Though there is some evidence that engagement among teens has not dropped as extensively as was once thought, there is little debate that teens are much more active now on non Facebook social sites such as Snapchat, which afford them a bit more privacy from the prying eyes of parents.
You may want to think of LinkedIn as the social network for businesses. A presence on LinkedIn is most important for B2B businesses and for businesses actively seeking new employees. LinkedIn is the ideal way to connect with other businesses, to recruit potential employees, and to establish oneself as a thought leader (within their groups).
In today’s push to mobile, a presence on Twitter can be valuable for many businesses. Mobile phone subscriptions approached 83 million this year in the UK. The short, 140 characters is compact, simple, and easy to share. It is ideal for getting your content directly into the smartphone-wielding hands of your consumers. This platform is particularly good for announcing “flash sales” to customers and for sending codes for special discounts. More and more big businesses use Twitter for making announcements, before press releases, such as; Matt Cutts of Google, is very well known to inform of updates to Google’s algorithms.
Google+ is one of the newest players in the social media space, and has been gaining ground steadily since its inception. With its natural integration with the search engine giant of the same name, participation in Google+ offers a number of business advantages. One of the most useful of these advantages involves built-in metrics for in-depth data analysis. In addition, Google Hangouts provides a forum for easily and directly connecting with customers via video, audio, and text. It is a network that Businesses wanting improved rankings should not ignore (we will go into more detail about this in the future).
Establishing an active presence on one or more major social media platforms can be very beneficial. It is inexpensive, versatile, and simple to implement. Whether your customers are primarily consumers or primarily other businesses, there is much to be gained from harnessing the power that social media platforms provide for connecting with your customers and ultimately driving sales.