A holistic marketing strategy requires brands to use a combination of traditional, print, and digital marketing, but for customer-facing businesses, social media should be considered the primary tool for reaching one’s audience.
Most businesses, big or small, already know the importance of social media. Brands tend to ensure they have a presence on all the major social media channels, and are involved in social advertising, as well. But just how important social media is for customer connections is something businesses have yet to ascertain
There are several advantages to using social media as a way to convert customers that simply cannot be replicated with other tools. Here are a few reasons why social media is the best tool for connecting with your customer.
Social Media is Popular
You need to be where your customers are and they are most definitely on social media. According to the latest statistics, as you can see from the infographic below, a massive percentage of internet users are actively engaged on social media. To reach them, businesses have to join social media, as well.
But simply having a social media account and posting every once in a while is not enough, especially when you are marketing to millennials, who are more active on social media than most other demographics. Brands need to use social media to its fullest potential—by learning about their audience, creating content tailored for them, and actively seeking out ways to engage with them.
Though many believe that social media interaction isn’t quite the same as face-to-face meetings, in actuality, it is a great way to connect with your customers and requires very few overheads. The cost of a social media account is nothing, which is why it will always trump the price of setting up a physical location to meet with potential customers.
And the reach of social media is incredible. While a physical location can hold only so many people, no matter how large it is, social media lets you reach thousands, even millions, if your content goes viral. A significant portion of those reached by a single post are eventually converted into fans, followers, and loyal customers. There isn’t anything else that can quite compare with that level of engagement.
While earlier forms of social media may have hindered a brand’s ability to communicate with their audience, social media now is highly focused on communication between all parties involved. But it depends on how brands use social platforms.
The major social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram—are primarily used for personal reasons. Businesses have co-opted that personal space, which is why it is extremely important to tailor your digital marketing strategy with a more personable angle.
For brands, selling a product or service is a top priority, but by building a relationship with digital customers, there is a better chance of seeing audience engagement convert into sales, which is ultimately the goal for customer-facing businesses, as you can see in the chart below.
Since brands now have the ability to speak to their customers directly online, they can share their thoughts, get feedback, or be humorous by sharing GIFs and memes.
Thee are proven ways for businesses to generate leads on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, by being authentic for their customers, all without having to think too far out of the box or spending a great deal of money. The ability to leverage social media as a relationship building tool that eventually leads to brand loyalty and sales has yet to be matched by other forms of B2C communication.
Using social media actively is one of the key aspects of digital marketing for brands, both large and small. By using social media regularly, brands can build a rapport with their customers, and even make their audience feel like the brand is a person, not a business.
While some businesses choose to do the bare minimum with social media—simply posting at particular times of the day using one of the many available social media management tools — the brands who are using social media effectively are the ones actively trying to encourage brand loyalty.
Because social media allows you to engage with your customers at all times of the day, brands are now becoming akin to customers’ online penpals. This is something we have seen successfully executed in some of the best social media campaigns, which have capitalized on an informal tone of voice to make the audience feel like they are part of the brand, and vice versa.
With this approach, brands no longer seem like separate entities, but as an extension of people’s lives. As we have noted, the personable approach makes a huge difference in the digital sphere, and is often the key to a brand becoming successful.
Another way to build relationships, which has really taken off in the past few years, is user-generated content, sometimes also referred to as content curation. While there are still debates about content curation vs content creation, both have an important part to play in reaching customers. I would say that they actually complement, rather than conflict, with each other.
User-generated content isn’t solely in the realm of social media. Newspapers have printed content from users for a while now, but the way it works in social media is on a different level. A number of major businesses actively ask users to participate in their brand identity by sharing photographs of themselves using their products and services. These businesses even have dedicated Instagram accounts to showcase only their users.
The reason why this kind of content curation is so important in the B2C relationship is not only because it shows the product in use, but it shows potential customers that real people are using your product and loving it. There is nothing more authentic than that, and businesses are expertly leveraging social media to give their audience a wholesome view of the brand that eventually leads to more customers and more sales.
Unlike the print medium and television, social media is practically free to use. Yes, because of the way Facebook and Instagram algorithms work, businesses are not able to access all their followers, but the amount of money needed to sponsor a social media post that will boost engagement is still nominal, especially when compared to the price of billboards, newspaper ads, television ads, or even Google ads.
While Google ads can cost up to $10 for a single click, a boosted post exacts only 10-15 cents for the same. That is a massive amount of money a business can save by sponsoring posts on social media. Even the more expensive ads on platforms like Facebook won’t be as hard on your pocket—on average, the cost per 1000 impressions is between $5-$10.
In addition, because of the shareability of content on social networks, your organic reach is guaranteed to be greater than anything else you can achieve on other platforms. Brands can adopt creative content marketing campaigns, like using beautiful social media graphics, to engage their audiences and make their content more shareable. The price for such engagement is negligible as compared to what a brand receives from social media.
Unlike advertisements for print, billboards, transit, and television, which generally own a very specific space and time slot for a limited period of time, social media advertisements can be targeted and retargeted as and when a business’ need arises.
Social advertising lets you choose the demographics, location, interests, and even the pages your target audience regularly visits, so that only the right people see your advertisement. This precision is unmatched by any other media form.
The way you can customize right down to the tiniest detail on social networks, because of the amount of information they have about their users, is something that print and television advertising do not have access to. Even with large-scale surveys, advertising agencies will never have the breakdown of information that social media provides.
But even more than targeted ads, it is the retargeting option that makes social media advertising such an important tool in a brand’s arsenal. While traditional ad forms can only run for a brief period of time, and generally only once, social media advertising lets you send new versions of your ads using authentic photography to customers who engaged with your advertisement the first time around. This not only helps with brand recall, it increases the chances of them becoming repeat customers.
More than any other advantage that social media has over other communication tools, it is the network’s potential for solving customer service issues. While not so long ago, customers would have to wait hours hanging onto a phone to get assistance, all it takes to get help now is a quick tweet or message.
Customers have always valued good service from the businesses they patronize, but brands’ presence on social media has now made it vital that their problems be addressed, if not solved, almost immediately.
But it isn’t as though a social media manager or customer service representative needs to live on social media all day to answer customer queries in a timely fashion. With the rise of social media chatbots, customer service has become easier and faster. Simple queries can be addressed by AI, so that representatives have more time to solve complex issues instead.
Using social media to address customers’ problems not only shows them that you care but that you are ready to go that extra mile to ensure your customers stay loyal to your business, which is likely to happen if you are able to handle your customers’ problems efficiently.
Social media may not be the only way for brands to connect with customers, but there is no doubt that it is the most effective way to do so. Social media is unparalleled in its potential to create relationships, build brand loyalty, and deal with customer service issues, all without being labor-intensive or expensive. The reach that social media has through its targeted and retargeted advertising has no equal in the advertising world, either. All of which is testament to why social media is the best tool to reach customers.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic and design platform. Ronita is interested in a variety of topics with regards to digital marketing, visual content, and online engagement, which she enjoys researching and writing about.