In recent years social networking has gone from just a fun but frivolous way of staying in touch with people far away, to being the preferred method of contact for neighbours, classmates, colleagues and friends. Companies and businesses have begun to use social media for brands‘ advertising campaigns, to promote awareness. With this massive penetration into every layer of society it is not entirely surprising that shady elements have also learned to make use of it, from mindless ‘trolls’ leaving nasty or vulgar posts after news stories to those who incited rioting and vandalism during the London riots. Even dictators are being toppled thanks to social media enabling the oppressed to spread word of atrocities and violations occurring in troubled countries.
Consumers now, are beginning to look to social media for excellent bargains, current promotions and even information on the company or business, which can enable them to promote certain values or beliefs: for example fair employment policies, good environmental standards and even simply good business practises – such as paying tax in the country of operation, as a recent scandal has brought to everyone’s notice.
Any company hoping to attract new custom should make sure that their social brand presence is a good one, and the best way for that to happen is for the company to be in control of it from the start. Social media presence, the most prevalent of which are Twitter and Facebook, need not be all business. Quirky sayings, jokes and amusing or clever pictures can attract a following of people who may well become customers, simply by having brand awareness soak in through a daily tweet or notification. Business oriented messages can boost awareness and therefore sales, particularly if the company is having a special promotion or discount day.
Nearly every business operating today can benefit from a good social media presence. Not only will direct followers and ‘friends’ learn to take advantage of special offers and bargains, their own friends and followers will be able to see the deals that they have taken advantage of, possibly tempting those friends into visiting the company website. Social networking has made it impossible to be secretive and deceptive, and consumers are learning to demand open communication and transparency from companies that they do business with. Any reluctance to divulge information can raise their suspicions and turn them towards different companies with a greater and more accessible social network presence. A wise marketer will take full advantage of this thirst for knowledge by being honest and open about the origins and policies of the company, while making certain that links to products and services are readily available and easy to use. A display of honesty and transparency is felt by many businesses to be worthwhile, given that it can result in many new satisfied customers.
Social media can have a huge impact on a company with a good social brand status – Facebook users reportedly spend 10.5 billion minutes per day on Facebook and up to 4 million tweets are sent per day by Twitter users. If only a fraction of one per cent of that time is spent making a purchase from a company, or learning about products the consumer is interested in, that can mean a massive boost to the profits of a company. All companies should join the technological revolution and establish their brand online.