In the current business atmosphere, not adapting to current trends such as social media can make a company look outdated and out of touch. The basic reality is that today’s clients will rely on social media avenues to find your products or services, and will expect your company to make itself available through these avenues. If you are not making yourself available, opportunities can be missed and your competitors will bank on your absence. Additionally, a lack of participation through these mediums will not allow you create the web of information that search engines rely on to provide better results for each search result.
The Relationship of Social Media and Search Engines
For years, the common trend among search engines has been in providing better real-time search results. As a result of the demand for finding the most up to date information, search engines have begun to index websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It is not a stretch to see the forecast in the horizon; social media websites will have a greater impact in allowing your clients to find you first when searching for your product or service on any search engine. Today is the perfect time to begin engaging in the conversations already taking place. Waiting any longer to put together a comprehensive strategy will only empower your competitors.
The Social Media Forecast
According to Forrester Research’s U.S. Online Retail Forecast for 2008 – 2013, online retail sales were expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10% to reach $229 billion by 2013. This huge market highlights the importance of participating in the online marketplace, as it consists of a large number of consumers. As more and more of these consumers continue to adapt to this virtual marketplace, the potential for online sales continue to grow. Additionally, Forrester’s research finds that the typical online consumer is less likely to be negatively affected by the economic climate we are currently experiencing, allowing for more stability for companies who have shifted a significant portion of their marketing and sales efforts to an online platform.
As the recession lingers and consumer confidence remains low, Forrester finds that by 2013, 33% of online users will do more research in order to find the most competitive prices, and points to a large increase in comparison-shopping. The research presented in this report shows that consumers are not just looking for the best deals, but are also doing more targeted shopping, while reducing impulse purchases. Additionally, 54% of offline sales will be influenced by online research. This information makes it very clear that an investment in online marketing is an investment that will allow a company to continue to grow, despite a bad economy.
Facebook alone claims 500 million active members, according to statistics on their website. 100 million members actively use LinkedIn according to their website. By having a presence on these and similar sites and by leveraging them to find and communicate with your target audience, you will begin to position yourself as a modern business, whose market is important enough for you to communicate with.
Communicating on social media sites will require proper strategy to ensure your efforts will be worthwhile and will make sure that each tweet, post, update, and comment fall within your brand guidelines. You will want to make sure that the strategy you employ will place you in the best possible position to grow online, and will help you avoid the pitfalls that can negatively affect your company.
When conducting yourself in a social media setting, make sure to:
Integrate Your Existing Marketing Efforts
By integrating your marketing efforts, you will make sure that your message stays consistent throughout the different sites you participate in. You will also be able to save time by reducing the number of times you must visit each site. An ideal solution will allow you to automatically post to various sites with minimal work.
Remain Professional at All Times
The nature of social media encourages an informal setting for communicating. It is important that each employee understands that their online conduct reflects on the company. Employees should enjoy the fact that they are a professional and should conduct themselves in a fun, but professional manner.
Use the social media platform to enhance research and to get insight on the market and on market trends.
With the use of such tools available, including common interest groups, fan pages, and Google Alerts, you can get insight on what people are saying about your industry. Use the information you gather to develop new avenues and solutions in order to be on the forefront of development.
Engage With Your Audience
It would make no sense to create these platforms without using them to communicate and engage with your audience. Be sure to assess your resources in order to avoid stretching your resources too thin, and only dedicate your efforts to those sites in which you will be able to routinely participate.
Become an Industry Leader
Realize that each communication you add to the conversation should be well thought out, and each should put you one step closer to becoming a leader in your field. This will be accomplished by adding quality content, and by being consistent in your positive message.
Don’t Give Too Much Away
Save the most valuable information for your paying clients. If you give away too much information, your connections will no longer need to purchase your service. Additionally, it will be unfair to those who already pay for the information that you may be giving away.
Be sure that a Marketing Director, CEO or other high ranking individual provides oversight. Nobody will understand the company better than a CEO or one who answers directly to the head of the company. Only they can ensure the proper conversation is taking place and that each communication enforces the company’s beliefs, mission statement and policy.