REPORTER: SOCIAL MEDIA CAN MAKE YOUR BUSINESS

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I think most businesses will agree that social media is an important part of marketing, promotion and brand awareness. But many companies, businesses and even public relations firms have a difficult time putting a dollar amount to its worth.
There is no denying the power and impact of social media in today’s digital world. It’s vital, and how you manage it can make or break your business.

Attention: As with any media exposure, social media offers your business an opportunity to grab the attention of potential customers. Websites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram can bring new eyes to your company, but choosing the right social media platforms for your business is key.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when trying to create a social media presence is over-saturation. A company can join every social media website under the sun, but that isn’t necessarily the best strategy. Building the type of social media following that will ultimately result in new sales requires a great knowledge of each platform and its audience.

For example, a salon or a travel agency could greatly benefit from the social media site, Instagram, but a bank or financial investment company may be wasting time trying to build an Instagram following, unless they have a targeted niche that they could appeal to. Those types of businesses may be better served making connections on Linkedin and putting more time into growing their Facebook or Twitter following.

brand awareness

Communication: Social media makes companies and businesses more accessible than ever. Customers will often reach out to a business through its social media channels first, before calling, sending an email or filling out a web site form. Dissatisfied customers will often write a negative review or express their discourse on social media. But businesses can turn a negative review into a positive interaction by reaching out and responding directly to those customers in a timely manner with genuine interest and cordial customer service.

Most commercial airline companies are very effective at this type of online communication with their customers.  They are quick to respond to any tweet or Facebook message and try to smooth things over and even correct any issues, if possible. Ultimately this requires a great deal of social media monitoring and working outside of traditional business hours.
In contrast, company’s that ignore or do not respond to customer complaints on social media can damage their reputation as well as lose at least one customer, if not others.

Voice: In a world where email, text messaging, automated calls and online ordering have become commonplace, business deals and transactions are increasingly more impersonal. Despite that, people still want to do business with a person, even if that person is on the other end of a computer screen. Social media allows businesses and brands to establish a voice, and that voice can ultimately generate sales and revenue if people like it.

The cookie brand, Oreo, has done this beautifully, and it has paid off for them exponentially. A very well known example, is Oreo’s now famous “Dunk in the Dark” tweet sent out during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout. The tweet was retweeted more than 15,000 times and favorite nearly 7,000. Major media outlets also picked up the tweet, mentioning it in national newscasts, newspapers, and online publications. So what was the impact on sales? It’s hard to say because the cookie company was also in the middle of a multi-million dollar advertising campaign, which could have also attributed to the increase in revenue. However, Oreo’s use of humor and creativity resonated with social media followers and ultimately customers.

With that said, using an undesirable voice or humor that is in poor taste can have the opposite effect. It seems every few weeks we are hearing about a public figure, company or business that is in hot water over a social media message.
Cheerios is one of the more recent companies to catch public backlash over an image put out on Twitter following the death of music icon, Prince.

The Cheerio dot was considered in very poor taste by many of their followers on Twitter.
The Cheerio dot was considered in very poor taste by many of their followers on Twitter.

This image, which has since been removed from Cheerios Twitter account, simply depicts the words “Rest in Peace” against a purple backdrop with a Cheerio dotting the i in the word “in”. Although the company may have had good intentions, customers thought the tweet was exploitative and in bad taste.

While it can be time consuming, requires creative thought and a bit of strategic sophistication, managing your social media image is a necessary part of doing business in the 21st century.

It definitely requires some finesse (or a great public relations professional), but social media is a very effective way to get your message and brand in front of your target audience.

Check out some of the early 2016 Twitter Fails!

BY MELISSA SMUZYNSKI 
 
 

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