If your business isn’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media websites, then your business is behind. The aforementioned websites are free to join, aren’t difficult to manage and can do wonders in terms of growing your brand, directing traffic to your company website, providing an immediate contact for questions, comments or concerns and actually making sure your site performs better in Internet searches (it’s true – more search engines are weighing what’s called “social signals” into their results, meaning that those who are more active on social networks will appear higher in search results).
If that isn’t enough for you to realize how important social media is, then consider the following 2012 statistics, via Top Dog Social Media:
- Over 90% of Internet-savvy adults actively use social media.
- About two-thirds of all Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow on the micro-blogging site.
- Forecasters predict that by 2016, more than 50% of all dollars spent in the United States will be influenced by the Web.
- Over 80% of people who voiced complaints on Twitter were grateful for the response they got from the various companies that made the effort to do so.
All good stuff. But now take a look at these statistics:
- Over 50% of customer tweets are ignored by companies.
- About a quarter of small and medium-sized companies have no social media strategy and about one-third don’t measure return on investment (ROI).
- On the whole, businesses only respond to about one-third of customer tweets and comments.
Not so good. But after examining these statistics, businesses should be asking: How can we best take advantage of social media to ensure we’re growing our brand – and ideally, profits? Well after taking a look at some of the struggles that businesses have with social media, one aspect should be fairly obvious – engage with your followers, friends and customers on the networks.
Reply to tweets, “like” and respond to Facebook comments and engage in discussions on LinkedIn. This humanizes your social media accounts and lets people know that you’re hearing what they’re saying.
But engaging is just one step. There are other various practices that you can implement to give your social media accounts a boost, grow your brand and rack up more friends and followers. Here’s a look at some of these latest practices:
Social media Contests
Pro sports are a business. And if fans aren’t buying tickets and merchandise, there likely wouldn’t be a team. One way to engage clients – and in this case, fans – is by hosting contests.
For example, the Detroit Red Wings of the National Hockey League host a Twitter trivia contest every week, giving away prizes to those who answer questions correctly. Give it a try – it’s engaging, fun and there’s the incentive for prizes.
Just make sure you make users respond with a hash tag that you create, if you’re doing this on Twitter. This will allow you to better see how many people were engaged.
In May of 2012, a Houston hospital made news when it live tweeted a brain surgery. Surgeons tweeted the details from start to finish, posting pictures and racking up some 125 million views from health insurance professionals, medical students and other medical professionals.
That’s 125 million people who now know about this Houston hospital, a brand campaign that went viral with this live tweet. While your business might not have a brain surgery to live tweet, surely there’s something that would be of interest to your current followers and potential new followers.
Engage in social media
We’ll say it again just because it bears repeating – be active and engaged with your audience on social media. Don’t just tweet and post about your business, but about current trends and events in your industry.
Respond to tweets and comments, be transparent and have some fun with your accounts. Mobile technology has allowed you to interact with friends and followers right from your pocket, making such social networks easily accessible.
You can even work with a third-party program to schedule Facebook and LinkedIn posts and tweets. Remember, in just a few years over half of all dollars spent in the U.S. will be influenced by the Web. Make sure you’re taking advantage of it by giving your social media strategy a boost.
Matt Smith is a Dell employee who writes to help raise awareness on the topic of cloud computing and other network management subjects.