Social media is all the rage these days. Companies which master it are instantly a step-up on their competition. The big question is though, how should companies best use social media?
There are several things that companies can use social media for:
- Customer Service
- Relationship building
I say “can” because it is possible to do all three of these through social media, but while they can do the first one, they shouldn’t because advertising is a no-no, at least in the traditional sense, and here’s why:
You have to always remember the social part of social media and know that a lot of the way we socialize in modern society is now not done by gathering in a living room or a bar and it’s not done by stepping up onto a friend’s porch to say hi as they’re enjoying the evening breeze out on the porch swing. No, socializing is done to a greater and greater extent online, people sitting in their own homes typing messages to each other instead of going out and seeing them face-to-face.
When you use social media to communicate with someone, you’re therefore effectively being invited into their home as a friend – and nobody wants a friend to come over and constantly try to sell them something!
Companies need to completely re-think what advertising is and work out ways to ‘advertise’ without relying on the age-old sales-pitch method.
Three Ways You CAN Use Social Media
So the big question is, how can companies use social media to promote their brand and their products?
The answer lies in the name – “Social”.
Using social media is all about building relationships and doing something that is more akin to subliminal messaging than direct advertising.
There are three good ways to go about this:
- Create a community branded with your name. American Express has done an awesome job of this through their Facebook page and Twitter account. Look through their feeds and you’ll see that they post regularly throughout the day, every day, and always use their name in their messages, yet rarely, if ever, suggest you get one of their products. Instead, they show you how using their products can get you discounts, unique experiences and let you help them support small companies and causes in local communities.
- Give stuff away. I know, I know, we want to sell our stuff, not give it away, but there’s something about a giveaway that gets people talking about and thinking about your product in a positive way. Maybe it’s because when you give one away, you’re saying, “We have so much faith in our product that we believe, if we give one away, the person who gets it will love it so much that they’ll tell others how great it is.” Kingston Technology do this well with their memory products. Giving things away shows a confidence in your product and helps turn potential customers into brand ambassadors.
- Monitor social media for what customers are saying about you and reply. It’s a simple thing, but so very effective. If someone likes your products/service/whatever, they’ll mention you online (they’ll also mention you if they DON’T like you). Simply replying to positive comments or even just retweeting (on Twitter) positive comments with a “Thanks!” added in can really positively affect a customer and encourage them to buy your products again and talk about them more. Many companies are doing this well now and it is particularly easy on Twitter because you can do keyword searches looking for your company or product name. A reply shows that you’re not only interested in them for their money but are interested in ensuring their product experience is GREAT!
These things all take man-hours to do, so they all cost money, but done consistently and done well, they can be great ways to advertise without ever once having to say, “Buy our ___ now!”
Advertising in the social media age is not what it once was. “Community” is now a word which has no city limits, no state lines and no national borders. Instead, community is people with similar likes and interests communicating freely online and then taking that offline to create gatherings and they’re happy for companies to become a part of that, to become community members… just so long as they act like a participating member of the community, not someone that is only interested in taking and taking.