These days, almost everybody uses social media and related technologies for fun, but if it’s suggested that they could also be useful in business, many still have no idea where to start. Those businesses that incorporate them well enjoy a significant advantage when it comes to marketing, R&D and customer retention, so it’s an important area to get to grips with. It’s also necessary to keep up to date and be ready to adjust strategies in order to keep pace with change.
The mobile revolution
When it comes to customer behavior, one of the biggest changes of recent years has been the spread of mobile technology, with three quarters of Americans now using smartphones and many using other mobile devices such as tablets and laptops. This has changed the way people search the internet (business websites need to show up in the top three results to have a realistic chance of being visited), it has changed where and when they search the internet (hasty “window shopping” at work is often followed by a purchase later in the day), and it has changed how they pay for their purchases, with easy-to-use banking Apps now taking their place alongside big players like PayPal. This means that businesses have needed to shape up their act, making sure that their websites work well on mobile devices and that their staff are ready to deal with customer needs at the right times.
One of the best things about using social media in business is the opportunity it creates for forming and building relationships with customers. Leading the pack, due to its remarkable reach and its impressive facilities for targeting advertising, is Facebook, so every business needs to have a Facebook presence. Simply using this like a blog to talk about what the business is doing can help it to connect with people, but targeted campaigns involving special offers for fans or access to exclusive competitions can do a lot to attract new people and build up a positive reputation.
Different types of social media suit different activities. Twitter is good for simple news provision and linking to business blog posts. LinkedIn is good for business-to-business networking. For keeping in touch with former customers directly, it’s good to offer both text message and email options.
A web-based world
Have you noticed now that everything—both in business, and in everyday living—has become virtual; or at least features a virtual version. Homes and businesses can be secured at the push of a button, and from anywhere in the world. Finances can be tracked, managed, and modified from a smartphone or computer. An array of online tools can be found here. Many businesses are using social media and other Internet-based platforms not only to communicate with customers and fans, but also to announce major press releases, product information, and so on and so forth. Just about everyone at some point or another in their day-to-day lives are accessing the Internet for some purpose. At this point currently, Facebook is the dominating force in the social media world.
The use of social media can be significantly enhanced by images. When looking for illustrations for Facebook posts or blogs, it’s possible to find all sorts of pictures from Francesco Corallo to Piers Linney on sites like Flickr. When promoting a company’s own products through photographs, it’s wise to make use of Pinterest and Instagram, which reach customers who like to see before they buy and who eagerly circulate images they consider attractive or amusing.
Getting good at social media requires a bit of practice, and it can be time consuming, so it’s best to concentrate on just two or three things that can be done well rather than trying to pursue every possibility. It’s well worth the effort, however, to bring the public image of a business bang up to date.