Social media users are like addicts. I don’t say this lightly – the obsession with likes has been compared to doing cocaine or smoking cigarettes by researchers and psychologists. Likes drive our egos- it feels good to receive a lot of likes. So, it’s no surprise that many social media marketers are also consumed by the pursuit of likes. Many marketers see it as an easy way to validate their efforts on behalf of their company or client.
However, it’s easy to overinflate the value of a like. Likes offer a simple measurement method: having no likes is bad, and having many likes is good. However, a like seldom reflects revenue. After all, we have yet to meet a vendor that accepts likes as payment (if you know of any, please leave a comment below).
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not arguing that likes don’t have value. They serve as an important indicator of how your social content is being received by your audience. However, too many marketers rely on likes and other so-called vanity metrics. Vanity metrics look good on paper, but they are easily manipulated and as mentioned, do not correlate with profitability.
Now we can discuss how social media can actually benefit your business and bottom line. Social media is an effective way to:
- engage in meaningful dialogue with existing and potential customers
- get informed on relevant trends and tastes
- research your competition
- monitor your reputation
Let us explain.
What exactly is engagement you may ask? In marketing, we sometimes hear the term ‘engagement rate’ used to represent the amount of vanity metrics received. Instead, we like to refer to the vanity metrics received as social transactions and use the term ‘engagement’ to describe social media dialogue. Although dialogue is more difficult to measure than vanity metrics, it is much more rewarding; it is the type of social media use that results in loyal fans and customer insights.
Here are some tips to drive dialogue:
- Know your brand personality and stick to it.
- Personalize every message.
- Stay human and conversational.
- Timeliness matters.
- Pay attention to what times your audience is engaging.
Engaging in meaningful dialogue takes time and creativity. Users can tell when they’re getting the same, computer-generated responses, and it makes them feel unheard and unappreciated. It pays to put some thought into your responses in order to keep conversations going! It’s also a good idea to take initiative and start dialog yourself by posing questions and asking for opinions. This is how you make the customer feel important and understood. By fostering conversation, you foster trust in your brand.
Social media is a hub for information. It’s a way to learn about local news, events, businesses, products and people. Large companies pay a great deal of money for market research. Major publications publish countless articles on the latest trends. However, these aren’t the only ways to gain public insight! Social media makes it possible for small and independent businesses to do market research and trend analysis independently – but you’ve got to know what you’re looking for.
It is important to read credible blogs, follow specific hashtags and search for industry phrases, acronyms and thought leaders. Since the marketplace is constantly changing, you must do so regularly. Trend-spotting is not just about listening to your target audience, it’s about asking them questions. Tools like SurveyMonkey and social media polls are affordable ways to get direct feedback. Social media is a community of existing and potential customers. You diminish social media’s value if you’re not paying attention to the overarching conversations.
Analyzing the competition has never been easier. Long gone are the days of going to your competitor’s establishment undercover – just head to their social media. Here, you’ll be able to find much more than their products and promos. Social media enables you to see who their audience is! Who are they attracting, that you are not? You can even see what their audience members are saying about them and use it to your advantage by differentiating or improving. You can also get an understanding of your competitors’ marketing tactics. What language and images do they use? How often do they post new content? Do they engage with their audience? What are they doing well, and what are they doing poorly? All of this information and more is available via social media.
Social media is an important tool in protecting your reputation. Usually, when someone has a negative experience, social media is the first place they go to complain. For many business owners, it’s hard to read critical comments. For this reason, it is many business owners’ first reaction to act defensively, viewing and answering their “haters” as enemies. This is almost always a big mistake, and it’s one of the main reasons it is beneficial to hire an outside agency to manage reviews and reputation.
Hug Your Haters, written by best-selling author Jay Baer, refers to social media complainers as the “early warning detection system for your business.” He writes about how when handled correctly, haters can be used to your business’s advantage. What matters most is in the response. One must apologize for the issue and pacify the person, all in a speedy manner. This helps make up for the problem, and the insight can be used to ensure it does not happen again.
Loads of likes may be impressive to the eye, but they are not increasing your profit. Social media has evolved into a platform for customer reviews and market research. It’s a marketer’s job to use social platforms to make informed business decisions and strategize for the future.
Engage meaningfully with customers to gain loyalty and brand awareness. Study trends and competitors to discover external standards and inspiration. Accept negative feedback to solve internal issues. When done diligently, you’ll build a stronger social presence and overall business – the real payback of social media.
Contact Absolute Marketing Solutions to learn more about social media marketing that focuses on real customers, in real time, to generate real results.