I’ll break it down pretty fast and easy for you.
Social media = social.
For your brand not to be engaging with its customers is so 1982. The 70s, 80s, 90s, and still the early 2000s, until the arrival of true social media, beyond internet forums and AIM, meant that brands didn’t have to talk to their customers. They could sit behind their desks, pump out whatever their product or service was and sit back and reach the benefits. So what changed? People’s habits.
In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuck talks about this phenomenon. In the 50s and before, everyone went to their local butcher and grocery store. Everyone knew everyone including the local gossip news, and you heard about good or bad service through your friends and family living in the area. Then the 60s hit and companies get bigger, people move away and spread out, and there are less gossipy conversations about whether the butcher was the one who gave Al the bad meat, or who pissed off Mrs. Johnson down the street by insulting her shopping habits in the store. These stories stopped spreading so companies didn’t exactly receive feedback. Who would they talk to anyways? A customer service representative who may or may not pass the message along?
Fast forward to the rise of the internet and social media, it changed how people spoke to each other and interacted with the world. So now when a customer is upset, they can just turn to Twitter, when someone loved their new product, they can rave about it on Facebook. This also means people are spending more and more time looking for recommendations online.
Think about how often on average do you hear about a restaurant a friend recommended and you look it up on Google Maps or Yelp before you decide to visit. Would you ever plan to buy a car before at least checking out your options on a website like AutoTrader or Consumer Reports? When you’re looking for a new home to buy or rent, chances are you’re not driving around every neighborhood looking for the “For Sale” sign on the lawn, but instead visiting a website to see what your options are in the neighborhood where you’re interested in moving.
When it comes to making choices, we often end up on the internet, or at the least, a very reliable friend with a wealth of knowledge. People want to hear from other people before making a purchase, and the internet often takes the place of that reliable friend.
For you to make a sale to those people, you need to be where they are. And where are they? Social Media. Chatting with friends, keeping up with distant family, or scrolling through feeds to check out the latest trends. Depending on your age demographic, they might be watching a Facebook video ad, or maybe clicking on an Instagram Story ad that spoke to exactly what they’re looking for.
Brands need to exist on social media, maybe not everywhere on all platforms, but in enough places where they can produce meaningful interactions with their potential customers. A business service or product SHOULD be on Linkedin at the very least, targeting customers in their audience. A beauty brand SHOULD be on Instagram, targeting influencers and their fans.
People want to talk and be listened to. So make sure your brand is also acknowledging the “bad stuff'.” Bad PR does not go unnoticed, and while often short-lived, can ruin a company’s reputation or sales without a thoughtful, human interaction.
Be where the people are to communicate your presence, helpfulness, and however else you think you should be engaging with your potential customers. Get creative with it and have fun!
And while you’re at it, let’s chat and get you launched into the world of social media.