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By Eliza Beattie, 45 Millbank
Social media (SM) has become an essential entity of marketing campaigns over the past two years, including MySpace, YouTube, eBay, Twitter, Ning’s, LinkedIn and Facebook. A visible shift has been from using SM as a personal hobby of youngsters to the use of it for business promotion and information. But does ‘social media’ actually work for businesses, especially event’s businesses?
The effectiveness of SM, like all marketing, depends on your target audience. Even if your business is based offline every company should have a web presence and online marketing plan – and the use of social media should be at the top of this list, along with blogging, videos and press releases. However, is SM appropriate for your clientele or complimentary of your companies brand story? Let us look at the main social media applications currently available to your business:
Currently one of the most visited websites on the internet with over 500 million active users; over half of which log on daily and 200 million of them use their mobiles, the dominance of Facebook as a medium of SM is apparent. Often cited as the initiator of SM (sorry MySpace!), no longer is the usage about university students sharing their lives with family and friends. It has become a global promotional hub for individuals and businesses alike, allowing companies to promote their profile and service. As a free and accessible medium (business profiles do not require an individual to be logged on to Facebook, or even ‘a friend’), business Facebook pages allow consumers to search for key information through search engines. Potential clients and suppliers can also join particular groups or forums that you are associated with within your industry or service, which will lead to your profile page.
You can also advertise your business via Facebook’s pay per click scheme; this allows you to target certain users or suppliers.
Twitter as ‘a micro blogging website’ is the ‘new kid on the block’ allowing users to create short messages of 140 characters with links to direct the reader towards the content you might be mentioning, such as DDR packages. Created in 2005, Twitter has more then 175 millions registered users writing 95 million tweets a day. Twitter may not be suitable for many businesses but it is great for industry networking allowing companies to increase their brand exposure to suppliers and existing/potential clientele.
You Tube and Video Blogs
Any medium of marketing that allows a company to communicate with potential clients in a refreshing and efficient manner is beneficial, and this is what YouTube and video blogging allows with over 200 million videos being viewed daily on smartphones and other internet-linked mediums. On YouTube, for example, you can upload virtual tours of your venue but also create a group of industry/supplier/client contacts and invite people who interest you to view your new videos. You can also subscribe to channels that interest you and send direct messages.
It was recently pointed out to me that videos now rank within search engine results pages so it is important that you get involved and upload your video blogs to YouTube, including films of past events, client testimonies and interesting industry interviews.
So does Social Media Work?
“Social media is changing the way we do business and the way in which we can communicate with customers both existing and new”. This change is reactive to technological advancements, such as the development of iPad friendly websites and smartphone screen specific apps. In 2010 alone, social networking sites experienced rapid mobile growth, with Twitter growing by 1,800 percent over 2010. Facebook grew by 1,000 percent.
You do need to be pro-active and reactive when using SM. Listen and read other’s blogs or profile pages and respond to suppliers tweets etc., show an interest in what potential clients are looking for. Comments are essential, for the more comments on a blog, Facebook page or event piece, the more it will be spread around the web.
Remember to keep your customary branding consistent, so brand your SM like you would your documents and website. The majority of SM mediums allow you to upload your logo and colour scheme to customise your profile.
Do not forget to take advantage of your accessibility and contact with the consumer, and ask your audience what they want, or what they are looking for. This not only helps companies react to the wants and needs of clients, but also develop innovative services and potential new business. Also, “keeping your clients continually involved allows you to create better working relationships which are better for both sides”.
Good luck and have fun – it’s meant to be refreshing and creative.
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