Still wondering why your business should be on social?
Is it really worth the effort?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone … and here’s a really ‘back to basics’ explanation of why social media’s just a new format for doing what we’ve always done, and therefore, absolutely something to understand and invest in.
Social media is not going away. It’s not a fad, or a phase, or an optional add-on for business. Whether we as business owners like it or not, social media plays an enormous part in how we do business. Understanding why that’s the case is less about understanding technology and more about understanding human behaviour and how technology has given us the freedom to get back to basics. Here’s why ...
We’re still doing what we’ve always done, it’s just that social media is a new WAY of doing it.
The internet is now a very interactive place, on a scale we’ve never experienced before at any time in history. We may be forgiven for taking that fact for granted thanks to the plethora of social media formats we interact with, and have come to rely on, on a daily, if not, hourly basis. Coupled with the devices that allow us to so easily incorporate that reliance into daily life, like smartphones and tablets, plus the ability to connect over some kind of network, WIFI or cellular, at almost any place, certainly at any time, and it’s really no wonder that we’re all spending so much time online.
Humans love to connect, love to interact, love to talk to other human beings and now that we can, we do. The way we conduct life has definitely changed, but these things, these tools that are different, more modern, newer conductors for what we’ve always done. Nothing’s actually changed that much, it’s just that the tools with which we do it have. Just like the printing press, the telephone and the ATM.
And if we’re all spending so much time online, because we now have the tools and networks and structures to support what we’ve always been doing anyway, then it stands to reason that businesses would be spending time online too. After all, a business is people. It’s made up of people talking to and doing things, exchanging things with other people. And besides, you have to go to where the customers are. Businesses have always done that too, haven’t they? If people are reading the local newspaper, then it’s a good idea to meet them there, to be in that paper, to be the stuff they’re reading. If they’re listening to local radio, then that could work too. Chances are they’re watching tv too, so …
Social media has levelled the playing field for marketing.
Before social media, we had what we now refer to as ‘traditional’ ways of marketing on ‘traditional’ platforms or channels, like TV, radio, print media, billboards etc. to communicate to our customers. Of course we still use them today, but these are very expensive channels, AND return on investment has always been notoriously hard to track. They’re easily ignored too and cost an awful lot to use, research and report on … and that’s why the companies with the biggest budgets dominated and made the biggest gains.
Fast forward to the happy days we live in now and the playing field is much, much flatter. Not only are the cost barriers almost non-existent for social marketing, but because the power’s been returned to the consumer, the little guys often have an advantage. That’s because people want to connect with people. They want the brands they’re loyal to to be authentic, to care, to have a real voice and a real person behind them … just like in the old days when local business, word of mouth marketing and customer loyalty were the bread and butter of local business.
We’re all online, everyone’s online, and that means the way to stand out, to find your loyal customers, to keep them coming back, to grow your brand, to spread the word, is by using social media to create and nurture relationships. Just like the local butcher used to do. Your advantage is that the big guys can find this hard to do.
Social media has changed the way consumers make decisions.
Having the online world so accessible means that we’re all spending much more time there, and as a result, it’s changed the way consumers consume information, build relationships and make their purchase decisions. People want more, they expect more and more is available.
A person looking to purchase goods or services are far more likely to listen to the things their friends and associates say about a brand than what it’s saying about itself. That’s nothing new, it has always been, it’s just that now, the consumer has a louder voice, many voices and those voices become the part of a brand collective.
Once, a happy customer might tell their friends about your service at a BBQ, recommend you to the local school or other associations, and benefit from your repeat business. Now endorsements can be seen by interactions with the brand online, and seen by many. Your customers may never meet you in the flesh, but you can cultivate a relationship with them by your interaction online … and other potential customers can see and engage in this interaction too. Gold.
Social media has turned every business into a local business with global possibilities.
Back in the old days it was all about local, all about relationships, building loyalty in your customers and networking within your community. Then the creep of globalisation meant the little locals were threatened, indeed consumed by the big players. The local butcher on the corner struggled as his customers could choose between 4 big name supermarkets in close proximity … that offered home delivery and the buying power of a giant.
Now, thanks to social media, the consumer has the tools to catch up, and their preferences are being reflected in the marketplace. They now have a voice again and their power has been returned. They want good service, they want to be loyal, they want relationships with those they do business with. That’s why what worked in the past, creating and nurturing relationships with your customers, is still working today.
Humans need relationships - it’s how we’re wired, and we create and nurture them through connection and communication. People embraced social media because communication and relationships are natural to us, they makes us happy. Social media is just a new way of doing what we’ve always done - connecting, communicating and building relationships. Just like rock painting, the printing press, and the telephone were all new once and the pinnacle of human advancement.
Companies of all industries and all sizes now have to work very hard at connecting with their customers, nurturing those relationships and making them happy … because if you don’t, your competitors will. Just like rock painting, printing and the telephone, social media is here to stay, and that change has already happened.
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Thanks for your time,
Andrea Kelly, Pepper Street Social