This question has been answered countless times in many articles circulating the Internet. Google the phrase, “why social media” and you’ll discover many useful resources. But here’s my take:
Social media isn’t for everyone. Social media works best for companies in which their customer base can be turned into an online community. My local corner grocery serves a small geographic area and their customers don’t make purchasing decisions based on anything gleaned online. Their decision to patronize this particular store is based purely upon proximity to their homes and/or places of work. However, another grocery store in my neighborhood specializes in kosher items and draws their customers from a much wider geographic area and are much more likely to have a customer base they can turn into an online community.
The “I ♥ Kosher” community might extol the virtues of this particular store and compare it against other stores of its ilk in the area. In that case, the owners of this store may want to monitor social media if for no other reason than to manage their reputation. But they can take it much further. They can build a fanbase on Facebook, email specials to their customers, and write a blog about kosher lifestyle. All of this could establish them as the “go-to” destination for all things kosher in their area. In short, they can use social media for what it does best: to build word-of-mouth interest in their business. Social media is word-of-mouth advertising on steroids. This type of advertising can help develop fierce loyalty to your brand.
Social media isn’t usually instant, but neither is traditional word-of-mouth. Building a strong reputation by providing a quality good or service over time generates the most desirable word-of-mouth. Social media adds an accelerant that helps your reputation spread to an exponentially larger group of people than it would otherwise. Generally, it takes about six months to a year for a good campaign to begin yielding measurable business results. Other, more expensive, types of advertising can yield faster results, such as paid search, television and radio, and if you can afford them, they should certainly be in your marketing mix. But social media can be a conduit for delivering a deeper message about your business than a 30-second spot or Google search. It can establish you as an expert in your field or a go-to source for niche products or services. Believe it or not, I recently patronized a company because of a blog article regarding hard-to-find vintage toilet seat colors!
A wonderful source of detailed information about social media can be found at Social Media Quickstarter sponsored by Constant Contact. If you like what you find there, and decide to sign up for Constant Contact Email Marketing or other services, please reference my Constant Contact Business Partner name: rayschaub. Or you can sign up by clicking here. It won’t cost you anything extra, but it will help me to keep providing free articles like this one.
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