Why Social Media is Key to Connecting with Customers

Ali J. TaylorMarketing, Social MediaLeave a Comment

Why Social Media is Key to Connecting with the Customer

A lot has been written and shared over the last few years about how social media marketing is an incredibly powerful way for businesses of all sizes to connect prospects and customers. When done effectively, marketing on social media can deliver remarkable results in building awareness of your brand, driving traffic to your website, and delivering leads and sales.

In a recent survey, 68% of respondents said that they plan to spend more on social media marketing in 2019. But what about the other 32%? Is it possible that there are still brick and mortar businesses that don’t see the value of marketing on social media?

Unfortunately, the answer is yes and here’s Emily’s personal experience from the customer side to demonstrate just what it’s like to interact with a business owner that “doesn’t do social”.

No Marketing for Old Men

In a small town located in Arizona was a bicycle shop owned by a man Jake and his business partner, Chris. Chris has a passion for bicycles but is the Chief at the local fire department so he only comes to the shop once – maybe twice a week. He started to notice that not many people visit the shop anymore as they used too. Chris confronted Jake and said, “Have you been collecting customers’ emails after their purchase?” Jake replies with an attitude, “I don’t need to ask for emails if they want something they will just come back in.” Unfortunately, that is a world that doesn’t exist anymore. Customers have endless choices about what to do and where to go.

Chris suggests maybe just having a sign-up sheet if customers want to be updated on news, weekly sales, and events that they host. However, Jake wants nothing to do with emails, social media, or any kind of digital marketing strategy.

Chris calls me in to pose as a customer, much like a secret shopper would do. His hope was that Jake’s guard would be down in an organic interaction and he’d, therefore, be more open to considering the need to have some kind of marketing since the request was coming from a customer.

The second I walk into the shop, Jake welcomes me with warm smiles and a “What can I help you with today?”. He asks me what I am looking for in a bike and about my lifestyle to see what would be the perfect bike for me.

Halfway through my visit, I tell him, “I’m just looking for right now”. He’s not fazed by it at all and keeps giving me information about bicycles, which is great because he keeps me focused on the product!

However, at the end when I am about to push the door open he says “goodbye” AND THAT’S IT.

He doesn’t try to engage me any further nor attempt to get information to follow up with me. Rather than leave, I walk back in and ask if he has a mailing list I can sign up for to get more information about any promotions, new items in stock, or maybe just a newsletter.

He tells me that he doesn’t have anything of the sort and that the only way I can reach him is to pick up the phone and calling him personally.

For the previous generation, you may think that’s perfectly normal. But let’s be real, given the pace of today’s society, the likelihood of me remembering to call him personally if I just wanted more information or to see what current specials or promotions there were isn’t very high at all.

Nobody wants to talk on the phone these days unless they absolutely have to. There are so many more communication options available. Text messaging is by far the most popular and rich with its mix of words, emojis, reactions, photos, and even voice and video messaging. And it can be done simultaneously with a number of different people.

While talking on the phone allows for the most clarity in a conversation, phone calls come with a negative in that the ubiquity of spam calls is approaching near ear-gouging levels. We here in the office agree that unless we’re expecting a phone call from someone, in particular, we simply won’t answer if it’s a number we don’t recognize.

Back to the story. So I ask Jake if he has a Facebook page or some other social media presence, explaining that even though I didn’t get anything I wanted to write a review on how amazing and helpful he was.

Once again, he stated that he didn’t have anything of the sort. In fact, it was my impression that he didn’t even seem to care that he could get recognized online for being a great business; which for any local business that wants to have more foot traffic and visits, online reviews are critically important.

Jake had no desire to adapt to or adopt these new online methods of marketing his business. I don’t know what became of Jake’s shop but for many businesses who stubbornly refused to upgrade and revise their marketing strategies to include digital tactics and social media marketing are definitely feeling the sting of lost business and foot traffic – if they haven’t closed their doors already.

Every situation is different and Jake might be content with exactly how things are, but if you’re a business that’s looking for new ways to generate more business and foot traffic to your door, then social media marketing is what you need.

Fact: 84% of U.S. consumers conduct online research before a major purchase (Forrester)

Social media marketing allows businesses and brands to cost-effectively reach out to their current customers and gain the attention of a broader audience of potential customers. That’s precisely what every good business owner wants. But you may have a-thousand-and-one questions like:

  • How do I even get started?
  • Which social media platform is right for me?
  • What type of content should I post?
  • What’s the best time to post?
  • How do I manage social media and run my business at the same time?

Those are all great questions! You can find some of those answers in our previous posts.

For now, we’ll give you a very basic overview of some of the major channels and provide a short outline of where to begin.

The Major Social Media Platforms

Facebook

Facebook is the biggest and arguably most powerful social network in the world with 1.55 billion active monthly users. Regardless if you are a startup or fortune 500 company, you need to be on Facebook and start engaging with your consumers.

Twitter

Twitter is known as the ‘‘in the moment’’ platform and boasts a respectable 255 million active monthly users. Twitter is a perfect online marketing tool for businesses that want to reach out to people and are ready for an immediate reply.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, regarded as the professional social networking site, largely focuses on B2B marketing rather than B2C.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual platform designed for customers to post, share, comment and engage through digital media. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Planning Your Social Media Strategy

There’s a Japanese proverb by Soichiro Honda that says, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” That goes doubly so for marketing on social media.

Posting on social media without an appropriate strategy and plan can be just as damaging, if not more so for your business as having no presence at all. Here’s a brief checklist that should help you get started.

  • Set Your Goals – Always start with a goal in mind. Consider what you ultimately want to get out of marketing on social media. Do you want to increase awareness about your brand? Do you want to drive more traffic to your location or to your website?
  • Know Your Target Audience – Think about where your ideal audience is hanging out online. Take into consideration when they’re most likely to be on and what type of content they’d most likely be viewing when they would welcome your content.
  • Choose Your Platform – Are you a consumer-focused business looking to connect with an older demographic? Try Facebook. Perhaps you’re more business-focused and looking to connect with other professionals. LinkedIn’s your best bet. And if you have a product that your customers love to show off, then perhaps Instagram’s your jam. You don’t need to be on every platform – just the ones that your ideal audience uses.
  • Choose Your Type of Content – Your content could take the form of a blog, a video, a podcast, or something else but this decision is ultimately dictated by your audience as they’ll tell you what type of content you should create based on what they like, share, and engage with.
  • Create A Plan & Strategy  – The best strategy on social media is to add value wherever and whenever you post. Value doesn’t always have to equal facts and statistics by the way. Value can be something that entertains and makes your audience laugh just because. You just want to make sure it’s not forced or outside of brand voice.
  • Measure, Test and Analyze  – What gets measured gets improved. Consistently reporting on your social media statistics will help you understand how effective your strategy is. Using that information to create A/B tests will help you discover what works and what doesn’t.

Wrapping It All Up

When social media marketing is done effectively, it validates your brand and connects you with your target audience. It signals to consumers that the brand is active and focused on creating thriving communication with consumers and delivering content designed to educate, entertain, and delight them.

Considering that 63% of consumers who search for businesses online are more likely to use ones with an active online presence, social media marketing really can be the game-changer for many local businesses looking for the key to the customer.

Next Steps…

Are you ready to extend your reach, increase engagement, and drive traffic to your website or physical location? Then you should click here to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today to discuss your challenges.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels