Many clients and prospects are skeptical and say “It’s just a fad” or “I can’t see dedicating that much of our budget to make friends on Facebook”. In response to these objections we have created a Social Media SWOT Team to go out and educate our clients on why Social Media is not a fad and why it is an integral part of their marketing strategy.
Social media is the hot topic of marketing today. It is almost impossible to open a magazine or watch the news without hearing about Social Media and how it is helping, or hurting, business today. Twitter and Facebook are now dominating the conversation, but that can always change. Remember when MySpace was king? That was only a few months ago.
What can social media do for you and more importantly why should you care?
The conversation about Social Media has to start with branding, as it pertains to business – not cattle. To understand what a brand is, we have to realize what it is not.
A brand is not a company.
A brand is not a logo.
A brand is not a product.
Quite simply, a brand is a person’s emotional response to a product. It’s the product’s reputation in the heart and mind of the consumer.
Why is branding so important? When consumers are making decisions about a purchase, they can be overwhelmed by too many choices, with no differentiation between products, and have to rely on their feeling about a company when making a selection.
Their gut feeling is shaped by the promise that a company has made and the expectation that the consumer has about the experience. When the expectation is met or exceeded, then trust will be formed. Trust promotes loyalty and loyalty leads to advocacy.
So, what is your brand?
You have to start with Focus – define the one differentiating and powerfully compelling quality that makes your brand special. As Andy our Brand Strategist likes to say, “I can’t make your product better, but I can make it different”.
Next is Connection – connect with your audience by establishing your voice and defining your message.
Now you have to tie it together with Harmony – unify your brand by developing branded touchpoints that work to establish trust. The ultimate goal is to change the conversation to make an emotional connection that will drive consumers to choose you.
Here is the critical connection to Social Media. Companies used to have only traditional media to broadcast their message. Now you don’t have to just broadcast it anymore. With social media you can have a conversation, create a connection, develop a relationship, form a tribe, most importantly, you can build a brand all using Social Media.
Maybe you think that your consumers aren’t on the Internet? According to Inc. Magazine, January 2009, “In 2008, 90% of purchases were made after research online.” That is a crazy statistic.
So, when this debate is engaged with prospective clients, we ask them to Google their name because that’s how their customers are finding out about them. What do they find? What do they see? What are others saying about the company, the product, the service?
Social media allows them to keep their ears to the ground, proverbially speaking, and listen through the use of Alerts. It also allows them to listen to what customers are saying about competitors.
The key to all of this is that Social Media allows companies to engage with their consumers in the places where they spend their time – Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, LinkedIn, Plaxo and so many more. As marketers, our job is to learn to speak the consumer’s language and have conversations with them without asking them to leave their comfort zone.
Social Media allows us to create touch points that can build brand awareness, establish emotional connections, converse with our customer and increase sales without ever delivering a unique visit to the corporate website.
Social media is revolutionizing business the same way that the invention of the television changed advertising.
It’s time to take Social Media very seriously and develop your plan for your business before your competitors take advantage of your absence.