All too often, social media’s value for businesses comes under scrutiny. How does sharing some silly picture help me do more business? How does Facebook help me SELL?
While it can absolutely be a lead generator, social media is so much more. It is a BRAND BUILDER. It can make your customers LIKE YOU. And customers who like a brand or company are much more loyal and willing to do business with it.
It is certainly possible to use social media to sell products, but using it exclusively for such a purpose will make a company seem like a cold shell, where the dollar is end-all motivation for maintaining a relationship with customers. Instead, an organization has to earn the right to pitch its products and services by providing its social following with content that is intrinsically valuable.
This earning of the right to promote products is what marketing guru, Guy Kawasaki, calls the NPR Model. Essentially, the idea is that National Public Radio (NPR), a non-profit organization, churns out topnotch content non-stop, without advertisements. In return, NPR earns the right to hold fundraising telethons, every once in a while, to which people don’t bat an eye; because NPR has earned that much with its listeners.
Social media’s value is at the heart of branding; creating a real identity for your business that people can feel emotionally connected to, get behind and BELIEVE in. It is also a two-way street where people can interact with your business in a meaningful way. What do you think has a greater impact: an individual seeing a billboard on the interstate, or that same individual responding to a question that was asked of him or her on social media? The answer is painfully obvious (at least it is to me).
Furthermore, social media can provide a wealth of knowledge about who your customers are… from where they live, to what they like and everything in between. If the key to successful advertising is finding the right audience, then social media is your company’s ticket to an in-depth view of your consumers. If you want to know something about them, just ASK!
The biggest complaint of many marketers these days is that they have to PAY to build social media audiences through advertising via the various social networks. Although it’s true that many platforms are moving to a paid model due to rapid growth and added competition, the quality of audiences that are now possible through social advertising is unmatched for the relatively low cost. In fact, investing $20 will go a LONG WAY in gaining a targeted, relevant, geo-specific audience. How many other marketing channels can you think of in which $20 can do… well, anything? Exactly!