8th July 2015

Why Social Media?

Large online social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are transforming the way business is carried out and a company can dramatically increase its brand awareness and drive sales with an effective social strategy.

In order to successfully achieve this a business must understand how people across the world connect with them, how people discover their new products, how to reach their target customers, and how social media fits into all this.

Facebook

More than 1.3 billion people use Facebook to connect with what matters to them and over 64% use Facebook everyday. Marketing on Facebook can help a business build lasting relationships with people and find new customers. It is an incredibly powerful platform for increasing brand awareness and can drive sales.
It starts with a Facebook page which gives your business a voice. It’s an easy way to engage with people who like your business. Regular posting of interesting and good quality content will slowly help to build an audience of subscribers. This is an effective way of earning brand loyalty as when a user opts to ‘like’ your page they will continue to see future posts provided that the content it interesting to them. Facebook employs algorithms to rank posts on a user’s news feed creating ‘filter bubbles’, in which only ideologically appealing content is surfaced, i.e. only the most relevant content is shown.
In order to ensure a brand is connected with an audience which find them interesting, which is important when selling a product to a target market, core advertising can be employed. Facebook Ads is a powerful tool and can be tailored depending on what the advert is aiming to achieve including boosting posts, gaining video views or promoting your website. From here Facebook allows advertisers around the world to reach precise audiences based on four main targeting types: location, demographic, interests and behaviors. This ensures the people you care about most will see your adverts.
Facebook recently added the Partner Categories tool which includes data from Facebook’s trusted data partners. The data from these partners allows you to target people based on certain attributes like their income and whether or not they’re a homeowner. You may also be able to target people based on things they do off of Facebook, like purchasing a new car. Jaguar successfully employed this strategy with the launch of its new XE model. They managed to sharpen the focus on their target market using partner category targeting, matching desired customer characteristics with aggregated data on spending habits, income and attitudes. They saw a 2.1X uplift in lead volume during campaign and over 70% lower cost per lead compared to email campaigns.
Facebook also offer advanced measurement tools so that a brand can see how people respond to their page and adverts and therefore make informed decisions about reaching customers.
 

Twitter

Twitter has marketing potential for your business in much the same way as Facebook. It is a powerful platform for increasing brand awareness and can help drive sales. Twitter has 300 million monthly active users, with 500 million Tweets sent every day and 80% of Twitter users are accessing it via a mobile device. This offers your business an opportunity to reach potential customers. Whilst businesses can use Twitter in a similar way to Facebook, there are ways to interact which are not so easy on Facebook. Twitter operates on a much more personal level and offers another way to connect with potential customers.
Twitter gives you the ability to listen and learn, to find out what’s going on in your industry and what your customers are interested in. Using the hashtag feature you can find conversations that are happening and jump in where you can add value. This is difficult to do on Facebook as the comments section is relatively limited in comparison.
For businesses that require close and constant feedback from customers, Twitter is an excellent platform on which to reply to customer service issues. A report Twitter carried out in February 2014 stated that 73% of respondents say they feel more positive about an SMB after they follow that business and read its Tweets. This compares to 58% for a business’ website. The average Twitter user follows five or more businesses and 37% will buy from a brand they follow. Followers learn more about your business’s unique personality, products, and services through your Tweets.
Followers become long term customers as it is common for followers of SMBs to stay followers. Two-thirds (66%) of followers have been following their favourite SMBs for six months or more and 56% have never unfollowed an SMB. This suggests that followers have the potential to become long term customers since they develop an affinity towards your business over time and are likely to purchase from you.
Twitter also enables you to connect with anyone as it breaks down the barriers to make it easy to join or start a discussion with influencers and industry experts to the raise the profile of your business and build valuable connections.
 

YouTube

YouTube is the world’s largest video viewing platform with over one billion users. Every day, people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. Over half of these view are on mobile devices. With such a large audience, YouTube offers another platform to connect with potential customers.
Advertising on YouTube is powered by Google AdWords and can be some of the most effective marketing out there. YouTube adverts come in various formats, and, much like Facebook advertising, can be targeted towards specific groups.
The monetisation of videos can create significant revenue for users who are gaining a large number of views. YouTube run an advanced copyright management system meaning that they’ve paid out over $1 billion to partners who have chosen to monetise their claims using Content ID.
 

Instagram

Instagram has 300 million monthly active users and offers another platform to interact with your businesses potential customers. Almost all users experience it via smartphone. It has a younger demographic than other platforms with 90% of users under thirty five years old which may or may not suit your business depending on your target market. Companies such as John Lewis and Channel 4 were able to dramatically increase sales due to successful Instagram campaigns.
Only recently have Instagram introduced advertising and recent reports say it is now pushing to monetize its services, it will open up ads to any brand and allow retailers to directly link to products from their ads. This is likely to include a ‘buy’ button attached to posts allowing businesses to directly affiliate their products within Instagram. Brands which move quickly on this feature could experience very successful results. This is a prime example of how social media is changing the way business takes place.
It is strongly apparent that if a business wants to continue to be successful in the modern market it should have a social media presence. The systems developed by Facebook and Google for targeted advertising are an incredibly effective way to reach a target market. Social media allows easy and direct access to a huge audience of potential customers and with an effective social strategy it can dramatically increase its brand awareness and drive sales.
 
This article has been written by Social Media expert Harry Fox, who joins us on two weeks work experience from Exeter University. Keep your eyes peeled for more of his findings over the next few weeks.