- Social media is transforming how businesses interact and relate with consumers
- Business success depends on evolving with and harnessing the opportunities that social media makes possible
- Social media can be a powerful tool for building brand awareness, and for communicating and building relationships with customers
It is difficult to overstate the significance of social media’s current influence on the contemporary business landscape, and its influence is anticipated to increase further over the next decade. The growth in the use of social media amongst the world’s population is staggering, for instance, social media users are expected to include more than 40% of the world’s population by 2022 (with Facebook alone having over 2 billion users).
Social media continues to dramatically reshape every aspect of business today, from consumer preferences and behaviour to the way consumers and businesses interact and communicate with each other. The commercial viability and success of businesses large and small depend fundamentally on their having an effective social media strategy.
Businesses can harness social media to drive growth, for instance by i) increasing brand awareness, ii) connecting with customers, iii) accessing consumer insights.
- 1. Brand awareness
The ubiquity of social media’s makes it the perfect tool for building brand awareness and recognition among millions of consumers around the world. Businesses can use social media to:
- raise their visibility among consumers,
- represent and showcase their brand identity,
- educate consumers about the company’s value proposition,
- and maintain the attention and interest of consumers over time (for example, by providing regular updates on new products, services, and other company-related information).
The Really Useful Information Company (TRUiC) notes that the value of increased brand awareness and recognition that can be obtained through the strategic use of social media is significant, especially when considering the extremely low costs of social media when compared with marketing via more traditional print and broadcast media channels. The highly favourable cost-benefit ratio means that even small businesses can access and utilise social media to build consumers awareness about their brands.
- 2. Connecting with customers
Another transformation wrought by the dramatic growth of social media use is that businesses can communicate and interact directly with consumers. This has created the possibility for actively building rapport and relationships, contributing to improved brand recognition, and, ultimately, driving increased sales and revenues.
Before making strategic use of social media as a tool to connect with consumers, businesses require basic communication infrastructure and technology. Given that consumers typically access social media via mobile phones, it is imperative that businesses have an effective and efficient phone system in operation. Learn more about business phone systems on this website.
One effective way to connect and engage more effectively with consumers is to utilise social media as part of the business’ customer care service. This can be highly beneficial, as businesses can communicate immediately with customers, and can address their problems or concerns promptly, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
Another benefit is that interactions with customers on social media regarding their queries or complaints can be viewed publically, providing businesses with an additional opportunity to gain further positive brand exposure. Of course, the very public nature of social media means is a double-edged sword, as negative interactions can also be viewed by other consumers, potentially leading to the serious and rapid degrading of a business’s brand reputation.
- 3. Gaining insight into consumers
One of the most powerful and understated opportunities that social media presents to businesses is that it enables the collection of real-time, high-resolution consumer data and feedback at a very low cost. Businesses are now able to monitor customer comments and queries for strategically useful information, and analyze the data provided by the various social media platforms to gain further insights into consumer perceptions, attitudes and behaviour.
The strategic utility of social media as a source of consumer data and feedback is significant and can assist businesses, and especially small businesses to better satisfy their customer’s needs through insight-based improvements in their products and services.
- Concluding thoughts
Social media will continue to be an important factor influencing the business landscape over the next decade and must be part of all businesses’ marketing and customer relations strategies. As the influence of social media continues to rise, it will be intriguing to observe how this impacts traditional forms of print and broadcast media as channels of marketing.