MARKETING THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA
You’ve heard of social marketing and its main platforms, Facebook and Twitter, but are they just so much hype or can they genuinely contribute to the growth of your business?Facebook’s growth over the past couple of years has been phenomenal. It took the social-networking site five years to acquire its first 200 million users but less than a year to double that. And its growth looks set to continue, especially in the emerging Asian and South American markets.
Twitter was set up in 2006, two years later than Facebook, and by april 2010 had 105 million users, with 30,000 signing up everyday.Two huge platforms growing exponentially, yet they differ fundamentally from each other and, as a result, the business opportunities they offer are also markedly different. Facebook resembles an online club, im most cases a “club of joe bloggs” to which only those chosen by joe bloggs are invited. joe’s Facebook page functions like a noticeboard of his life and those of his friends, but joe’s thoughts are not exposed to the entire audience, just to those he chooses.
Twitter, on other hand, is more like sitting in a cubicle in an open-plan office with all your associates announcing to the floor in general what they’re doing at any particular moment by shouting across the partitions. In the way it’s experienced, twitter is more ephemeral and less personal: it’s about “what I’m doing now”, whereas Facebook is more record of “what i’ve been doing recently and what I’m doing to do”Another major difference is that whereas the heart and soul of Facebook is its website, which hosts all page,personal and business, Twitter is largely accessed via third-party applications such as TweetDeck (www.tweetdeck.com) and various mobile apps. this reflects both the inadequacies of Twitter.com as adestinaton and the flexibility it offer via its API (that is, its application programming interface: the way other programs can interact with Twitter’s own software).
The business network LinkedIn is “Facebook for suits” and is more about connecting than revealing the minutiae of your life.
DOWN TO BUSINESS So what does this mean for your business? I don’t believe it’s a sensible policy to attempt to build a small business entirely around social media. However, I do believe that social media can make a strong business stronger.If you think of the social network as places your customers might gather, then you need to consider which of the network your customers are most likely to use. Facebook has the wider demographic, although over half of all UK users are age 18-34, with slightly more female users that male. The fastest-growing group of Facebook users middle-aged women, and it’s likely that this trend to “fill up the corners” will continue until all age ranges are will continue until all age ranges are well represented.
Facebook users also have a wider range of technical capabilities;part of the site’s appeal is that it’s relatively easy to use.You could argue that Twitter is even easier to use:it’s basically a matter of going totwitter.com and typing in an SMS message. However, Twitter’s a bit harder for the wider public to get their heads around and is therefor more popular with technically literate people. It also has a slightly older demographic and is less with the under 25sTaking MakingYourOwnCandles as an example, our customers are predominantly women in their 30s and above.Not many will be Twitter user and, as a group, “craftly” people are likely to be less technically interested than the average so Facebook will probably be their social media home, if they have one.
THE FACEBOOK APPROACH Facebook allows you to have a page for your business, such as www.facebook.com/MakingYourOwnCandles. It’s easy to pull data into this page from your Twitter feed and blog and, to be honest, this is all most business do. There’s so little effort involved in getting a Facebook page up and running for your business that there’s no excuse for not doing it.In my view, Facebook as a platform is most useful where you’re trying to form a community of fans around a product. Testimonials area very powerful form of persuasion and a Facebook page, if actively promoted, can be the ideal way to demonstrate “social proof”. Because of the nature of Facebook updates, if a fan of your product comments on it this message will be seen by all their friends as a personal endorsement . Facebook’s modular nature also means that it’s possible to integrate some shopping carts (including BigCommerce) into the page, making it possible to sell your product directly from Facebook.
SHOULD YOU JOIN TWITTER? Unlike Facebook, where you effectively create a network of friends or customers, Twitter is one big community with each person following the updates of other,personally selected, people. It’s much harder to build a community around a product with twitter, but it does have its benefits:because it’s one big community, it’s much easier to discover when your product or service is mentioned by searching on the entire feed.Twitter can be used to establish your credibility as a provider of a service or product, as a method of providing information about it, to provide customer service and general market information after the sale.It really comes into its own when it’s used creatively.for example:
o To send out special offer specific to Twitter followers.
o To allow a company to interact in real time and in a public manner with its customers.
o Spreading testimonial or experience of the product or serviceQuantifying the impact of social media on your bottom line is difficult. You can distribute voucher code via Twitter or Facebook or see how many times they’re used and how responsive your audience is to promotion via social media. similarly, it should be possible to establish whether specific leads were generated via Twitter specially.
But its real impact isin giving you, as a business owner, a long-term way to interact with your customers and potential customers. For Twitter, this means using tools such as TweetDeck and HootSuite (www.hootsuite.com) to monitor keyboards relating to your product or service. by providing help to users via the public Twitter network rather than direct message, you’re not only solving a specific problem but also demonstrating your responsiveness to potential customers and raising your profile.
Having said all that, in my view social media marketing is something you do seriously when your product, website and pay for per Click campaign are all solid. For example, working on your AdWords campaign is likely to have in immediate bottom-line impact on your business. Split-testing new headlines, URLs or ad copy against the original control has more or less immediate result – you’ll either be more profitable or less. building a Twitter or Facebook following is more akin to search engine optimization – it’s a long-term game. Your first job should always be to ensure that the fundamentals of your business are solid before spending time on social media.