Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Bebo, MySpace, hi5, Four Square, Friendster… the list goes on. All social networks, all taking the world by storm, but surely you don’t need to be on all of them?
The answer is, probably not. But it’s likely to be of benefit to be utilising at least one. The stats surrounding social networking use are staggering and the ‘social web’ is not just a fad – it is a fundamental shift in the way humans communicate, interact, collaborate, create, inform themselves, prioritise, organise, buy, sell and play. This has far-reaching effects on personal relationships, but also the relationship that consumers have with your brand.
Consider a good experience a customer has with your company. Of course, you want them to share that with the world, as widely as possible. Well, it’s here that this is really possible. Now consider for a moment a customer having a negative experience with your brand… We all love a good whine, so unfortunately, this is what we’re most likely to tell the world. Social networking sites, make it incredibly easy to do this en masse.
Your reputation is riding the peaks and troughs of Facebook-land, whether you are there to defend it, or not. It’s a proven fact that brands can engender stronger customer loyalty by reacting positively and quickly to clear up a negative experience, than from never putting a foot wrong. I’m not suggesting you stuff up on purpose here so that you can fix it, but mishaps will inevitably occur so make sure you’re in the right place to act.
Not surprisingly, use of social networking sites is more prevalent among certain groups, teenagers, University students and stay-at-home Mum’s, for example. Companies like Belly Beyond, a purely online shopping portal for Mums, has had huge successes via social media, as it’s 7,179 ‘likes’ on Facebook attests. So, consider your audience and work out what pocket you need to be in online to reach them. Customer’s attention has become the scarce commodity – you need to establish a presence in the place that they are ‘hanging out’, a voice where they are spending all of their time.
A social media marketing expert can help you devise a strategy that is both manageable and non-daunting, working out the best methods for communicating to your audience and helping you to establish your ‘brand voice’ online. Often you can even outsource the administration of your social networking sites to an expert, so you can trust they are being maintained how they should.