Social media and business: A necessary partnership
Business use of social media is hot so why aren't more Canadian-owned companies taking advantage of it? Much more than simply a platform for far-flung family and friends to keep in touch, social media is one of the hottest marketing strategies to hit the industry in years. Not surprisingly, a 2011 survey by the Print Measurement Bureau found that Canadians under the age of 25 make up about one third of those who use two or more different types of social media while those under 35 years of age make up six out of ten users.
Focus on Social Media
In order to tap into that all-important segment of the population that dictates the latest trends in all aspects of business – young adults – a company must market themselves where those people are most likely to be found. Given the extraordinarily large amounts of time that people devote to socializing via this type of media, it makes sense for a business to include it within their business strategy. In order to reach their long range goals, a business needs to have a solid social media strategy that focuses on marketing itself effectively.
Use it as a Piece of the Puzzle
Diversification is key when it comes to marketing. While businesses should make a concerted effort to use social media to capture more attention, this is not to say that they can let other methods fall by the wayside. Instead, social media needs to be thought of as a vital piece of a successful marketing strategy—albeit one that gives a business an extraordinary amount of reach and influence as well as unprecedented opportunities for connection.
Advantages of Using Social Media
Given the sheer numbers of Canadians that use Facebook, a business that does not tap into that resource could be missing out on hundreds – if not thousands – of new customers. Indeed, Webfuel found that in 2013 over half the entire population of the country – or about 19 million people – use the undisputed social media king on a regular basis.
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Many people turn to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to find the answers to their most pressing questions. These problems run the gamut of where to find a reliable mechanic to who serves the tastiest ethnic foods within a certain province to the nearest dentist that specializes in gentle care. After all, who better to guide a person through life's bumps than a circle of friends, regardless of how near or far they might be.
Sharing success stories and recommending businesses by tagging them within posts opens up avenues of marketing for a business that simply are not possible otherwise.
Taking a page right out of the appeal of social media sites, businesses can tap into the ease of engagement of the platforms. Informal, casual and with a definite flair for fun, a social media presence provides a business with the opportunity to engage with people far from its home base as well as those within its neighborhood. Connecting with people across the country increases a business's reach which can only be good for their bottom line in the long run. When a business is tagged by another social media user, this gives them a golden opportunity to engage with people who have directly indicated their interest.
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Using social media is an effective way to build excitement in a brand, event or activity. Whether a business is a start-up or one that is introducing a new product, involving their followers builds loyalty and goodwill. What begins as a small ripple as a few people "Like" a business's page or tags a noteworthy post winds up being an effort that spirals across the country. Tapping into the creative genius and curiosity of social media users when it comes to naming or adding new products, for instance, generates excitement and new customers.
Building connections between social media platforms—by using Instagram to post pictures on Facebook, for example, or inserting Twitter hashtags in Facebook updates—allows a business to do double duty while reaping expanded benefits. Reams of marketing products that sit around gathering dust are not a necessity when using social media. Having a highly visible logo, tagline or some other means of standing out from the competition, however, is considered a necessary element of a successful marketing strategy.
Disadvantages of Engaging in Social Media
While the below examples are noted as disadvantages, they can often also be thought of as being advantageous to the smooth marketing of a business. In any case, there are ways to minimize the disadvantages associated with using social media.
There is a reason why social media platforms are so popular: They are a fun and addicting way to keep in touch and find out about the latest happenings across the country as well as around the world. Posting witty updates and following up on comments can consume a great deal of time if it is not kept under control. Many businesses hire marketing companies to handle this aspect of the job for this exact reason. Others designate a certain employee as the social media expert.
The users of social media often like to air their grievances on their favorite platform. This can often be a painful experience for a business that bears the brunt of this anger. Savvy businesses, however, turn such inevitable occurrences into opportunities to reach out to their customers and make amends. Rather than ignore issues when they are pointed out, smart businesses can use social media as a platform to show that they listen to their customers and do whatever they can to make things right.
Lack of Material:
Being able to deliver fresh and smart vignettes on a daily—or even weekly—basis could prove to be more than one person can handle. While some updates can be tied to seasonal occurrences, new product announcements and other noteworthy events, finding fodder for those posts can be a challenge for any business. Using a marketing expert on a regular basis turns this disadvantage into one that is simply delegated to those who have more time and creative energy to devote to it.
Social media is not going any; in fact, all indications point to its continued growth. It is time for Canadian businesses to tap into this growth potential as a way to expand and increase their options. A lack of a social media presence could result in stagnation and loss of creativity.
Source: http://www.pmb.ca/public/e/product_data/social_media.pdf, https://www.webfuel.ca/canadian-social-media-statistics-2013/