3 Ways Social Media Can Help Or Hurt Your Business

November 10, 2010

One thing that is undeniable about social media is that it is a powerhouse. Other forms of media took much longer to gain the popularity that social media has gained in recent years. For instance, radio took 38 years to reach 50 million users and TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users. In comparison, it took Facebook less than a year to reach 200 million users. The question is no longer whether a company should utilize social media, but how will they take part in this social media revolution effectively.

3 Ways Social Media Can Help Your Business

  1. Establish a direct connection – It’s important for your customers to be able to quickly and easily get from your websites and product pages to and from their own social media accounts. There are a few fundamental ways to connect your brand’s website to your social media presence and your customer’s profiles. One of these ways is by connecting through a plugin like the Twitter Retweet Plugin or the Facebook Like Button Plugin.
  2. Levis Social Media

    Levi’s used the Facebook Like Button as a means of forming that direct connection between a customer’s social media account and their individual products on their website. This allows the consumer to like a specific product on their Facebook profile without having to leave Levi’s site, thus sharing it with their entire network on Facebook. This helps spread awareness about Levi’s products and brings emphasis to Facebook users about what other people in their network are currently liking or recommending.

  3. Improving interactivity and customer service – The point of social media from a business- to- consumer viewpoint is to increase dialogue between the buyer and seller. The seller understands what the consumer likes and doesn’t like by the feedback they receive from the buyer. Facebook and Twitter act as a forum for this conversation to occur. Businesses need to be sure they utilize this medium correctly by listening to their customers needs, regardless if the feedback is positive or negative.

    One good example of how to properly contribute and listen to your customer’s conversations would have to be Comcast’s Twitter accounts. Comcast not only answers questions directed at them through their Twitter profiles, but they actively search for these conversations about their products, whether it’s complaints or praise. Comcast searches the Twitter universe for mentions of its various brand names and keywords in hopes of dealing with concerns as soon as possible. This helps keep the conversation going and customers happy to know they are being helped by a real person, not just a faceless brand.

  4. Strengthening loyalty – Through various campaigns, many brands have been able to strengthen existing customer loyalty. Giveaways, special offers, and sweepstakes through social media have brought consumer excitement about their favorite brands to new levels because everyone loves free stuff. Brands like Pizza Hut, HSN, and Baskin-Robbins have all initiated giveaways and contests on Facebook to help spur interactivity on their social media accounts and company websites. By giving away free ice cream or exclusive deals delivered to your inbox, these brands and others are using social media to help continue life-long brand loyalty.

    Baskin Robbins Social Media

    However, it is important to focus on your specific niche audiences for these giveaways and sweepstakes. If you don’t target your audience correctly you’ll run the danger of attracting of influx of people just looking for free stuff without potential for conversion into brand loyalty. I’ll come back to this point in the next section on how social media can hurt your business.

3 Ways Social Media Can Hurt Your Business

  1. Original content is key – Whether you’re a car dealership or a fishing magazine with an online presence, having content that is original and relevant to your scope is vital. This rule is even more important in terms of social media because of how little time it takes to share content, whether it is good or bad. One instance where social media greatly hurt or killed the business was in the case of Cooks Source magazine.

    The publication was found to have copied content from a blogger and initially refused to apologize or pull the plagiarized piece. The uproar over the plagiarism was soon spread across Facebook, Twitter, and various blogs all denouncing the magazine’s wrongdoing. Cooks Source magazine’s Facebook page was littered with hundreds of thousands of wall posts calling out the publication, poking fun at the editor, and calling all advertisers to pull their support for the magazine. When it comes to social media, the consumer can be your biggest advocate or your most animate contender.

  2. Listen to what’s being said – If you’re ignoring tweets, comments on your blog, wall posts on your Facebook, or other consumer feedback you’re really hurting your business. Social media is meant to bring the consumer and business together and help improve the consumer’s experience by giving direct feedback. To avoid this social media faux pas, address all comments, tweets, posts, and customer commentary in a timely manner with professional, helpful, and most importantly conversational responses.
  3. Not targeting the right audience – Just like in any other marketing channel, knowing who your audience is essential to meeting your company’s goals. This is true for social media as well because mistakes and irrelevancy can be seen and discussed by all. Sending irrelevant messages through various social media channels can really turn off your audience, losing them forever. If you were a baby supply retailer on Facebook, you’re most likely not going to use hip lingo and flashy visuals because your main audience is probably mothers. You would more likely want to use copy and visuals highlighting the importance of family and the comfort of your baby. Know who you’re talking to or it’s just a waste of time.