Social Media and Your Business

Social media is undoubtedly the way of the future, and can be an extremely useful tool in advertising for many businesses. Many business people are scratching their heads wondering how to incorporate this relatively new phenomenon into their marketing strategies.  There are a few pitfalls that many professionals encounter that can negatively affect the profitability of their business due to the huge audience of social media. Some of the most common and avoidable errors include: overcomplicating social media, advertising without incorporation, venturing without thought, and missing customer signals. A few more that commonly occur include; the assumption that social media is expensive, delving into the social media world without the appropriate technology knowledge and finally forgetting to include visuals.

The reason that many seem to overcomplicate the use of social media is due to a lack of understanding.  Because to the young, newly-generated nature of social media as a whole many experienced business owners are uneducated on the power of correct social media advertising. Many are afraid of using it incorrectly and therefore jeopardising their businesses reputation on a larger scale than traditional methods. The stories of law-suits due to unfortunate posts is another reason business owners are reluctant to dive into this new method of out reaching their consumers. There are many tools that  are now available to those wishing to increase their knowledge of social media, an example of this was produced by Dell entitled ‘Social Media Tool Kit’; instructing users how to utilise the tool that is social media.

Traditionally advertising did not allow much of a customer feedback or response, and was mainly focused on broadcasting a one way message. This is another common mistake some people make in the use of social media for advertising. Social media is more of a conversation between the supplier and customer by which each other’s needs can be more clearly communicated on a two way method. It is not a broadcast mechanism and users will become inpatient with this approach and cease to be involved in information updates. The key here is to remember that social media is not a one way conversation and people need to feel connected, valued and engaged within your business.

Often business owners venture into the world of social media without thought and attempt to cover as many different avenues as possible. This can create a variety of problems such as inefficient monitoring of responses, and creating an online presence that does not reflect the personality of the business. It is very important to ensure that all members are actively using the business social media avenue understand the tone of the business and keep to a pre-arranged overall personality tone as to not confuse customers. Business owners need to think about the best avenue of social media such as; Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to appropriately delegate time and energy in the best site(s) for the business. Make sure not to spread yourself too thinly across the board as this will communicate a lack of professionalism and will deter customers. All social media ventures have to be informative, entertaining, interactive and closely monitored.

For those who are unsure about their online presence in is important to listen to the customer. You can get many valuable signals and information through listening to the opinions of customers and basing your advertising strategies on these; not going in blind. Understand your target audience, the way in which they communicate, and the things they respond positively or negatively to through looking at a competitor’s site.

The assumption that it costs a lot of money is a common misconception too as social media can be one of the most inexpensive advertising efforts that a business can engage in. There are ways in which conversations can be easily monitored such as Google Alerts, that only require an investment in your time. Social media is not rocket science and does not take a long time to learn and master, so step right up.  Teenagers are using social media as confidently as they use a knife and fork so it can’t be that difficult right? Just get into the atmosphere and observe the conversational styles and aesthetics of the social media world. It will all progress naturally until you can engage with confidence.

Finally remember to include visuals such as photographs, videos, logos and aesthetic colour designs that reflect the ‘personality’ of the business. Inforgraphics and instagram are newly developed social media sites that are based primarily on the sharing of photographs. Visual elements are such a strong tool as they evoke emotion and connection between the business and its targeted market. Photographs communicate information quickly in an enjoyable visual manner, and if a business can convey its messages in a visually stimulating manner this can be a fantastic advertising ability. Due to the short attention span of most customers images provide an opportunity to quickly grab the viewer’s attention and convey a clear message.

There are many small pitfalls that can have negative effects on any business but understating the technology used, the voice of your target audience and being truly authentic will ensure that you endeavours into the world of social media are memorable and positive. Just listen, learn, then dive in.