Social media should be looked at as a 2-way street. And while this is a fairly simple statement, a lot of the time we are only leveraging the broadcast marketing tools to fully grasp what other benefits they have the ability to provide. I can tell you from experience that before you get to the point that you feel you are making headway, you will probably think you are social media marketing when, in fact, you aren’t. To be effective, social media marketing needs to be about bilateral communication between company and consumer to build customer loyalty and build and brand awareness for the rest of the market. It has to be about a lot more than just putting up a Facebook Page or setting up a Twitter account when there is no real voice behind them.
If you haven’t already, you will probably hear some overzealous bloggers say traditional marketing is dead, and Social Media Marketing is the be all end all going forward. Over-hyped statements like these may further confuse local businesses about where this new medium is headed and how it’s supposed to replace more traditional marketing means. Try to take this type of perspective in stride. Local business are still going to benefit from offline advertising, and in fact, can leverage these means to accelerate the growth of their social media following. These traditional means include email, print, TV, along with point of purchase marketing. Local businesses can use these avenues to let their customers know about their Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts and other social media applications…and they should do so at any and every opportunity possible. A significant number of customers also use mobile applications for their social networks, so the opportunity to get their attention when they are on-the-go will become increasingly better as adoption rates rise. Those that put the work in now won’t be left behind as traditional marketing continues to lose marketshare to the web. Doing this will also allow you to build better relationships with customers, which ultimately results in a better product or service.
Remember, the true value of social media is that it supports having conversations with your customers about your company. It allows you to directly offer promotions, deliver news and content, run contests, run loyalty programs, test new products and services, and recognize your best customers. The most important part of this is that when someone makes an effort to interact with your business…you need to respond, because customers that interact with your company will become your most loyal patrons.