(Originally posted September 14, 2012 – Updated with note and links November 15, 2012)
One of the most cost-effective marketing tools for cultivating and growing word-of-mouth advertising today is social media.
It isn’t a slam dunk to growing your business. Far from it! But with a serious commitment, a clear strategy and a long-term commitment that is focused on the wants and needs of clients and potential clients, the potential to build brand loyalty, develop brand ambassadors and build one’s client base and business is significant.
Avoiding an online presence, including social media, unless you are set to retire your business next year, is almost suicidal in today’s economy. Waiting will only put one further behind with more catching up to do down the road.
Consider these statistics:
- In Canada, 82% of the population (28 million people) use the internet and 62% of these (17 million people) are on Facebook
- In the United States, 78% of the population (245 million people) use the internet and 64% of these (157 million people) are on Facebook
Those on Facebook are much more likely to be on the site to connect with family and friends, in a more personal way, than they are on some of the other top networks like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter.
Even Google+ has not captured the same type of user as Facebook, yet.
This makes Facebook a challenge and an opportunity for small businesses and brands.
A challenge because social media requires a different way of thinking about how to grow one’s business. Push-style advertising that is all about our business (similar to ‘it’s all about me’ kind of thinking) doesn’t work.
So, how do you build a base of fans and brand advocates on Facebook when the main reason they are online has nothing to do with you and your business?
The answer isn’t all that complicated, but it isn’t a simple fix either.
What are some of the things families and friends talk about/share – in person and online?
- life and relationships
- pets, restaurants, recipes, cars, clothes, TV shows, movies, computers, sports, games, activities, bargains, etc.
And here lies the opportunity!
Because businesses are in business to meet these kinds of needs and wants, those that learn how to share their knowledge and expertise in ways that:
- add value to people’s lives by focusing on their interests, wants and needs
- are helpful, valuable, interesting and/or thought-provoking (i.e. tips, information and inspiration)
- are not overtly advertisements
- link back to their website where appropriate (and at least periodically)
These are the ones that (long-term) will build their brand image, influence and reputation, and win new Facebook fans and ultimately new business, from existing clients and new clients.
Customer service has always been the best form of marketing. And social media provides a new opportunity to serve your customers and grow your business. But it doesn’t happen overnight.
The challenge for most business owners is whether we will take the time and energy needed, along with the changes needed, to make it happen.
** IMPORTANT NOTE ADDED NOVEMBER 15, 2012 **
One other challenge Facebook Pages are experiencing of late is tied to changes announced September 20, 2012 to Facebook’s algorithm.
These changes are proving to be a challenge for brands as only a small percentage of their posts are actually making it into the newsfeed of fans, unless brands pay to have this happen through promoted posts and sponsored stories.
And Facebook sponsored stories have their challenges! According to a recent statistic shared in an eMarketer Webinar roughly 57% of fans find advertising that uses sponsored stories misleading – and this can have blowback on the brand using the sponsored stories. More on that in another post.
To understand the recent changes made by Facebook, check out two articles on the topic of the changes below:
- Has Your Facebook Page Reach Decreased? This Might Explain It
- Responding To Facebook Page Reach Decrease