An increasing number of companies, including small businesses, are intent on investing a larger percentage of their marketing budgets into social media.
According to research by Forrester Consulting, some 59 percent of senior marketers believe that their companies need to utilize social media marketing fully in order to survive. About 71 percent of these marketing professionals feel that their companies can push ahead of competitors by using social media more effectively.
Only 37 percent of those surveyed said that their companies had fully embraced social media as an integral part of their marketing campaigns and only 3 in 10 senior marketers said that their companies have long-term social media strategies.
The available evidence, though, supports the senior marketers’ belief that social media can dramatically improve their company’s marketing performance. Here are some of the most important reasons for businesses to invest in the social networking area.
– According to the Synapse Local Trac Report 2011, Facebook fans spend an average of $71.84 annually on products that they “like” on that social media platform. A fan is 41 percent more likely than the general population to recommend products or services that they like to their social media friends. Facebook fans are 28 percent more likely to be loyal users.
– A Harris Poll suggests that about a third of social media consumers utilize these platforms to tell their friends about companies that they really like. Through sharing, liking, recommending and similar actions, social media sites have become integral to the way many of us make consumer decisions.
– Social media marketing is perfect for establishing your brand. Once you have loyal friends, fans, followers and other community members on social networking platforms, you can turn many of them into dedicated brand advocates. Studies show that about one in 10 consumers act as free brand promoters online and the number goes up to 90 percent for “millennials.” The younger generation uses social media for nearly everything and future success will mean having a presence on the platforms that they use.
– Market research suggests that businesses plan to invest higher shares of their marketing budget into social media in the future. Companies that miss fully embracing this trend will be left at a competitive disadvantage. With the expansion of Wi-Fi hotspots and 3G/4G mobile broadband networks, an increasing number of people are using their laptops, smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices to access the Internet from practically any location. What this means is that companies using social media effectively will be able to reach these people at nearly any time of the day. Those organizations that are not fully present and active on these platforms will surely fall behind in the marketing race.
– Social media provides a free and simple platform for surveying and testing public opinion. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook make it easy to search for consumers’ impressions on products and services. For example, if a company introduces a new product, it can use social media management tools to scan Twitter for public “tweets” that contain the product’s name. Software applications can analyze these tweets automatically not only by keyword, but even by commonly used social media symbols like “:)” and “:(” to assess whether the public reaction is positive or negative. Companies can also post questions or surveys on their social media profile pages to see how their online communities feel about certain issues, products or services.
– Social media can act as a customer service and support network. An increasing number of companies use these sites to provide product updates and news, and even to respond to customer help requests. For example, by responding to a query on a common problem with a product, all members of the online community will be able to read the solution. This can be much more efficient than responding to the same problem for large numbers of clients individually. Social media lets customers provide instant feedback, which allows companies to respond in a timelier manner to important issues.
– More consumers consult social media before buying products online. Research from the E-Tailing Group suggests that one in three consumers check with their social media communities before deciding on purchases. An Inc Magazine study found that about seven out of 10 online shoppers is more likely to do business with companies that have active social media profile pages.
– Social media helps with search engine optimization (SEO). This factor can be especially important for businesses that sell products and services from their own websites. SEO is key to keeping a steady flow of traffic to your sites that can in turn lead to more conversions (sales). Changes to search engine algorithms recently place great emphasis on social media presence. In particular, websites can realize higher placements in search engine results pages when the site has recommendations from the user’s social media friends.
Bottom Line: If you’re not already investing in Social Media Marketing and maintaining an active presence with a clear goal in mind, you are basically setting your business up to get left behind, and possibly lose existing customers to your socially savvy competition. The good news is that it’s not too late to get a jumpstart!
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