I've always been a pretty active kid (I learned to walk when I was 8 months old) and I was extremely inquisitive from the moment I was born. My mom says she can’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to talk. I was also one of those adorable (some people might say annoying, but I’m an optimist) children who loved to ask, “why?”
Fast forward a couple of decades and not much has changed. I can still walk and talk (a lot) and I still love to ask “why?” And the more clients I work with, the more I find myself asking that very question.
You see, I get a lot of companies come to me and say they want to start “social networking.” “Awesome,” I say. “Why?”
I typically get some variation of, “Because we need to reach our clients online.”
“Makes total sense. But, why?”
“Well, everyone is online now so people need to know we’re there too.”
This back and forth goes on and on until we get to something like, “You know what, I don’t really know why we should be on Facebook, I just know we should.” I’ve got to admit, this is an unfair exercise because if they had all the answers they probably wouldn’t need me, but I like to do it because a lot of companies start with explaining the tactics they’d like to use without first thinking of the goals and strategies they’re hoping to reach.
So, since I’ve been torturing everyone with this little lesson, I’m going to give you the cheat sheet.
Five Reasons to Use Social Networking as a Marketing Strategy
- A fast and effective customer service tool – Social networking by definition is social. Networks provide brands open forums to address customer concerns and provide timely responses to inquires. Plus, you can even monitor what your competitors’ clients are saying and capitalize on their issues.
- A platform to forge new partnerships and business relationships– Often a brand’s focus turns solely to customer acquisition, but there are many people and companies who can have a big impact on a business without making a single purchase (think possible vendors, publicity opportunities, employees, partners…). Don’t limit your interactions.
- A good way to track what you’re doing – The very best thing about working online is the ability to track and report on what works and what doesn’t. I’m always surprised when people tell me they don’t read their analytic reports. These reports hold the keys to how your consumers find, share and engage with your company online.
- A platform for multimedia content sharing – Remember the days when you could hand someone a business card and that’s all you needed to create a new relationship? Well my nostalgic friend, those days are over. People want to be able to watch videos, see pictures, scan barcodes and talk back to you. Social media provide destinations for all of that great content. The best part? The overhead and time that used to be spent hiring fancy videographers has succumbed – in many cases – to more simple and cost-effective solutions and free hosting on sites like YouTube.
- You should be there – At the end of the day, your instincts are right. If you want to find new consumers in the places they’re spending time, you should be considering social networking as part of your marketing plan. But don’t assume that social marketing is a one-size-fits-all approach. Take the time to identify those networks that speak to your target market.
There are a million more reasons to use social media in your marketing strategy (including monitoring your competition, positioning yourself as an industry expert, providing timely content to your consumers…) What are your favorite reasons for being a social networker?