Let’s begin with a mind digger. Tell us if you can recognize the taglines from these old Doordarshan commercials.
By old, we are obviously referring to the golden 80s/90s when quality television like Hum Log, Buniyaad, and Byomkesh filled up our senses. Way before we were subjected to “soaps” washing our brains off grey matter – read saas, bahu, damaad, beta, baa and baa baa’s black sheep! So, what products are these three referring to?
- Arre Deepika ji…Magar aap to humesha mehenga daamo vali tikiya
- Vaah Sunil babu! Naya ghar, nayi gaari, nayi Mrs…Badhiya hain!
C’mon, let us know what you come up with.
Advertising has been residing in the turf of television, radio, and newsprint for decades. In fact, big brands are still very much using these to get their product across to the population, at large. Over the years, though, Social Media has gradually crept into the advertising scene, capturing the market for smaller brands and startups.
Social Media, an advertising medium which was barely existent about a little over a decade ago, is now generating of the order of $10 billion in revenue. In 2013, it was about $6 billion, showing quite evident returns.
As of a study back in as early as 2012, Sony claimed to have made a million dollar increase in sales thanks to Twitter and 87% of Fortune 100 Best Companies had at least one Social Media page.
Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, are just some of the Social Media platforms being used by companies to advertise and promote their products and services. Post, Like, Share…Done!
In this article, we will talk about the common practices you can use to put your company on the Social Media map. But before we take the dive, let us discuss some of the popular advantages prompting companies to join this nouveau trend of marketing.
How do companies and users benefit from Social Media marketing?
There are many reasons often cited for the widespread use of social media for product promotions. But ultimately, they all converge on variations of a few tangible advantages and outcomes.
- Company-User relationship: Unlike traditional media, there is a direct interaction with end users. And then there is the interaction between users and users.
This merry medley of interactions leads to a confluence where there is a focus on building relationships, customer loyalty, feedback loop, and what have you.
These are priceless when it comes down to how organically these goals can be achieved as against going through the traditional means and then further employing third party research groups to gather user reactions.
- Wider audience: With the current internet generation maturing into paying customers, traditional media channels seem to have lost their game to the throne, so to speak.
Companies are wising up to the potential of these social media sites, where a lot of users are already present by virtue of the site’s design.
- Word of mouth: Psst…did you hear about that thing offered by that company? I used it and it was great. People generally tend to trust their peers more than a loud mouthpiece from a big brand telling them how good their product is…yeah! No conflict of interest there!
The viral quality of social media helps to get people talking about products faster than any other medium. If your friends recommend a product to you, you will be more inclined to try it.
- And it would cost you…: It is cheap. Far cheaper than printing ads where you may have to pay by the word or space. And forget about the cost of television commercials.
Only big brands can possibly afford them. Smaller start-ups gingerly venturing into the world of business may find it hard to shell out their mom’s gold earrings for a 1 minute commercial on prime time Tv.
- Competitor’s competition is quite a compelling factor: If your product competitor is on social media, you better get on it and do your bit to spread the word too.
Modern customers tend to rely on social media fan or brand pages, following brand communities, even if passively, for testimonials or reviews. Without such information in the internetverse, you may as well be closing shop at 10am!
How can you effectively promote your business on Social Media?
Well, we now know that social media is an unstoppable force and unless you want to be labelled as an immovable business owner, you’d definitely want to find your influence here. There are various ways to go about promoting your business on social media. Though not completely independent, their approaches do differ.
There is social media marketing through creation of a fan/follower/brand page and engaging the fan base, quite organically, to spread their impression of the company through word of mouth. This relies on creating a brand community.
The second is social media advertising where it can flutter around push-promotion where a lot of emphasis goes into self-promotion, and which can potentially turn off fans if not done in a subtle manner.
One can even go for paid advertising on social media sites like Facebook which uses targeted promotion instead of organic impressions. But, we will stick to organic posts and not paid marketing in this article.
We will discuss the smart ways of going about the process of promoting your small business on the likes of Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all those social networking sites. We have gathered here some known wisdom to rise above competitors by creating your niche and brand community. Let’s take a quick look.
- Target clientele: Let’s say you open a website for photography classes. The smart way to advertise, or promote, would be to understand your target audience. Who is likely to be interested in your classes? What age group? What is the general demography? Upon identifying the crucial band of people, you can then choose the right platform or social media site to promote your business. In this case, perhaps Pinterest.
Here’re some useful stats, by Pew Research Center, on percentage of US adults who use various social media networking sites, within that demographic group.
For instance, 72% of US women (adult), surveyed by the Pew Research Group, use Youtube. In fact, data from Pew, Neilson and Burst Media (in 2013) seem to suggest that women tend to interact with brands more than men.
In the US, 55% of online US women access deals whereas only 36% of men do. Also women are the main consumers of news on social media. Extending out to global trends, more percentage of women use Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter, according to other studies. Linkedin has more participation from men.
Pew Research Study 2018
- Content: Content can become a big drawing power. Provide your followers with a regular supply of useful, engaging, valuable, and entertaining information. Dormant brand pages tend to lose followers quickly.
Understand what connects existing customers to your page and what can prompt them to share or repost your content. What will bring in new customers and how will you be able to gain their loyalty.
Think about them when you create content and post them on a regular basis. Their trust in your ability to be a good source of information will also enhance their reliability on your brand. In others words, get on building that brand community. And of course, try to make your content SEO friendly so it can show up on organic searches and get noticed. Read Build your career by blogging
- Don’t overtly push your business agenda: As mentioned before, it is easy to marginalize followers by targeting product promotions on your social media brand page, on a regular basis.
Instead of brandishing your new product or deals, use useful content to reach out to them. Pair your promotion within relevant content.
Instead of posting the launch of say a new photography class on Sunday for half the price, write an article on how and why weekends are a great time to pursue those hobbies that get side-lined by work pressure. The Sunday class then become a quip in the end. Clever huh?
- Video content: Intersperse your posts with video content. They are catchy, visually appealing and often more effective for the rushed crowd who barely get any time to catch up reading outside their work purview. They can get a lot of attention, get reposted, shared, and reach to a much wider audience outside your immediate follower base.
- Tag: Engage social media influencers – pages with a large follower base, pages with credible authority, big brands – by tagging and encouraging their involvement in your promotion.
Make sure you don’t misuse and annoy the influencers and also keep track of what’s going on in the social media space under your company name. Is anyone misusing or misrepresenting you by tagging your company?
- Engage: Ask questions. Make them vote. Design a quiz. Get them interested in an activity. Interactive content ensures participation, shares, likes, and all those goodies that get noticed and picked up.
- Be open to customer feedback: Respond to comments and messages on your social media fan pages. Even the negative ones. Use the comments and feedbacks as ideas for further content for your website that you can promote as a response. This is one of the major boons of social media marketing – the company customer relationship and interactions.
All things said and done, patience is truly the virtue here. Don’t let that virtue get deflated when you don’t get immediate viral status. Keep providing value and channelling your energy in creative engagements – live videos, small events, etc. And even more so, find independent target niche websites and build your image by providing your expertise sort of as an expert consultant.
Respond to queries on forums and discussion boards. Overall, invest as much time as you can to build your brand even before you think of using it to sell your product. And don’t stop even when you feel the dough filling in.
Keep creating and distributing value and let Social Media do its magic. Read Must have skills to be an Entrepreneur and Unexpected lessons from being an Entrepreneur
Taking about building your brand, here are some related links.
- How I got into Brand Management career in India
- Common interview questions to get into a Brand Management career