I'm chatting with my 79-year-old mother on the phone. She's telling me about a product that she thinks I would like, but can't remember where she saw it. "It was on Facebook I think…", as she's scrolling back through her feed.
I'm scheduling a dinner date with my son, so I browse through the local offerings on Facebook. Most restaurants have their menu on their Facebook pages. I rarely click through to a website. I see their hours of operation, but most importantly, I read the reviews. I can even browse through pictures of meals and the décor that customers have uploaded. I click through to Google maps to double-check the location, if there's parking nearby, if we can walk or if we should cab it, and if I can make a reservation online, even better.
About 3.5 billion people worldwide are frequent users of social media, including over 90% of millennials and nearly 50% of baby boomers. On average, social media users spend three hours a day online. Half of them will use social media to research products, and over 70% who have a positive online experience will recommend a brand to friends and family (Oberlo.ca, 2020).
The great advantage for brands using social media is that it creates a two-way relationship with consumers. It's a beautiful mix of marketing and public relations combined, where you get to tell your story and immediately hear what people think. Gone are the days of putting an ad on the radio or in a newspaper and hoping, fingers crossed, that buyers will show up. Now you can create an event out of your dinner special or merchandise sale and count the RSVPs. The ability for people to sign up, like, and follow your page or feed allows you to capture and keep that loyal audience. You can even gather their new ideas and suggestions and collect feedback through surveys and polls.
And frankly, social media marketing is more cost-effective than traditional advertising, with an almost unlimited reach potential.
But a strong social media presence doesn't happen overnight. You need to know which channels work best for reaching your target market or audience. You need to build that relationship and rapport with frequent posts, promotions, and even direct contact. Many clients will take not just their questions but also their concerns directly to you online. You will need to respond quickly and sincerely. You need to engage and be equally engaged. When I needed a plumber, the account that didn't get my business didn't respond to my direct FB message for days.
Brands that succeed online also let people know not just what they do but who they are as organizations; their personality, ethics, and commitment to corporate citizenship.
Wendy’s (of burger fame) has 3.6 million followers on Twitter. The social media team behind the brand is best known for its brilliant zingers and cheeky style. I wanted to tell you how many tweets a day Wendy's pushes out but found their Twitter account now protected, so I had to send a follow request. What I can tell you is that Twitter is telling me that there were 390 tweets about Wendy’s in the last hour, many of them from people wondering why they’d gone dark. An hour later, I'm still waiting for my follow request to be approved. I went to look at Burger King’s account instead.
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