Minds Over Money: Social Media Business Perks

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brain_smallADOTAS – Newspapers, television, billboards, magazines — key mediums for businesses the world over. But the thing with these traditional mass communication mediums is they are generally reserved for big companies with big budgets.

Conversely, the rise of digital media has opened up new avenues for business, and the opportunities often don’t require a six-figure marketing budget. And it’s on these kind of forums that creative minds can get one over on the money men.

With social media, smart ideas underpinned by a smart strategy can generate a lot of international coverage – and sales – with little upfront investment. That’s not to say a Coca-Cola-sized marketing budget wouldn’t help; it just means that with the advent of the Internet era and the subsequent rise in new media platforms has helped create a more even keel.

Social media is free… all it needs is your time. And a little creativity.

The beauty of social media is that it has a life of its own… while it’s certainly advisable to have a company website to accompany any social media platforms you use, it’s not mandatory.

With Facebook, you have 550 million users already actively engaging on the platform. Getting 550 million to visit your website would be rather difficult – and that’s before we even consider the server space required to manage such levels of traffic.

Furthermore, with a dedicated company Facebook profile you can integrate all aspects of your social media activity. You can create specific tabs for your Twitter feeds, your YouTube channel and tailored landing tabs for when you’re launching a special promotion.

You’ll no doubt be well aware of E-Commerce. But what about F-Commerce? You can open an online Facebook store, which integrates with the likes of the Amazon Webstore. Check out Pampers online Facebook store and you’ll see what we mean.

One of Facebook’s most popular apps is the Facebook Photo app. Indeed, it’s now one of the most commonly used photo directories in the world. So on your company profile you can feature lots of fantastic photos of products to accompany any sales or promotions you’re running.

And in the same way as you would perhaps use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your company website, Facebook Insights allows businesses to monitor all activity, providing valuable insight (hence the name…) into all commercial activity, such as the demographics of visitors.

Of course, it’s not all about Facebook. Dell has reportedly earned millions of dollars from its Twitter activities, by engaging its consumers with promotions and targeted tweets. So a “save 10% by clicking here” tweet can help drive traffic – and sales – to your company’s website or online Facebook store.

Any social media initiative should consider the three following key words: accessibility, incentivization and engagement.

For maximum efficacy, businesses must make it as simple as possible for customers to engage with them in the social sphere. Clear “follow us,” “like us” or “Digg us” icons should be prominent on any company-related platforms, whether it’s a website or other digital marketing collateral.

Indeed, if consumers don’t get involved voluntarily, incentives must be put in place, so consider running a special promotion for “liking” or “following” the company.

And once a customer is actively participating with a company on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, they should be engaged with continuously. There’s little point setting up a Twitter feed or dedicated company Facebook profile or YouTube channel if it’s rarely updated.

While businesses can use social media and nothing else to get ahead online, it’s certainly still advisable to have a dedicated company website. Besides it being yet another potentially massive sales channel, consumers expect a company website and will probably be suspicious if they can’t find one.

And it is massively beneficial from an SEO perspective – consumers search for products and services on Google rather than Facebook or Twitter, so a company website should form a prominent part of any business’s online activity. The Skittles website, for example, is used to fantastic effect – it essentially acts as a sort of aggregator for all its social media activity elsewhere.

Social media promotes viral and word of mouth marketing. The snowball effect of tweeting, re-tweeting and liking holds massive potential for businesses and with relatively little up-front investment, small to medium sized companies can compete on a more-even keel with big business.

Traditional media such as TV, Radio, billboards and magazine aren’t going anywhere. But social media has opened up the doors of global commerce, so pack your check-book away and get your thinking caps on – there’s money to be made.

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