July 22, 2014

Is Social Media All It's Chalked Up to Be?

Social media is not holding up to its original hype. Initially thought to be an essential element of marketing, a recent study shows that social media may actually have little to no influence on consumers.

 A recent Gallup survey of U.S. adults concluded just how small those influences are:

  • Sixty- two percent of users do not believe that social media has any influence over their decisions
  • Thirty percent of users claim social media has some influence
  • Five percent of users say social media has great impact on their purchasing choices
  • Three percent  of users don’t know if social media has any kind of weight on their purchases

Needless to say, these results are a hard reality check for marketers and business leaders everywhere. For most, it may require a serious alteration of one’s social media strategy altogether.

Where many companies go wrong is how they communicate with consumers via social platforms. It’s not just about promoting your product, it’s also about connecting with the customer; however, that seems to have been lost amidst the overload of digital content over the last few years.  

Having more likes than another brand does not necessarily mean you’re more popular, especially as social media engagement can be paid for, even further lowering the legitimacy of fan numbers. These fan numbers can be easily gained, but loyal customers cannot be.

"Fans and follower counts are over. Now it's about what is social doing for you and real business objectives," Jan Rezab, chief executive of Socialbakers AS, recently told the Wall Street Journal. In other words, the days of chasing social media users are over. Organizations need to be focusing on the quality of their social media content, not the quantity.

Below are three tips and tricks for social media engagement:

1.Be proactive, not reactive: Seek out hot topics in your industry and become a part of the conversation.  Engaging with consumers about topics they’re talking about, rather than just pushing promotional content will show them that you care about and understand their challenges and pain points. Positive interactions will stay with consumers longer than a random clever tweet and, more importantly, will create loyal customers.

2.Respond timely to feedback:  Many social media users take out their daily frustrations through Twitter or strongly worded Facebook posts. Not responding to a negative post in a timely manner is often worse than not responding at all. Positive posts deserve recognition as well. In fact, replying to a satisfied customer and thanking them for taking to the time to share their experience can help create lasting relationships.

3.Be Open: Transparency can go a long way. Consumers enjoy following different organizations on social media to gain insight into the company’s internal workings. Initiate a Google hangout, or create employee profiles that individualize your staff members. These are simple ways to gain trust from your consumer base.

It is time for a change. Gone are the days of overloading users with irrelevant content. All of the time and effort your marketing team puts into your social media platforms should not fall into the 95 percent of content that has no influence on consumers. Stop and think: how will your company become part of the elite five percent that DO have an impact? 

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