There is a tale of a King who was fond of playing chess. Once an old sage passing through his country agreed to play chess with the King. On the persuasion of the King, the sage agreed for a bet. Condition looked very simple and unique, one who lost, needs to place a single rice grain on the first square of a chessboard, two on the second, four on the third, and maintain the same pattern of doubling the number on every other square till the sixty-fourth square. The story says, the King lost the game and was not able to fulfill the betting condition even after putting all the grain available in his country. This story indicates the power of exponential growth.
Sometimes, messages in social media also undergo such an exponential spread, then it is called “viral”. The term viral indicates the speed of cheese is like a virus spreading disease.
Social media is a very good platform to post, share, and popularise your business messages. Promotional messages about your brand, products, or services can be spread cost-effectively using social media.
What is social media
Social media are interactive computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation or sharing of information, ideas, career interests, and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks.. Some of the most common features of social media are user-generated content, facility to like, share and like the messages, and the ability to form groups or communities based on common interests.
There are different types of social media based on how they are used. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, etc. are more popular. These types of social media sites are useful in starting and maintaining connections with friends, family, and other people. These are also suitable for collecting opinions and responses from customers. Using advertisement options messages can be promoted to reach more and customers.
Social Review Sites help to post the opinion about the quality of a product or service. Amazon Customer Review, TripAdvisor and Trust Pilot, etc. are examples of Social Review Sites. Reviews on these sites can influence sales. For example reviews on TripAdvisor influence hotel booking.
A picture speaks louder than words. Another type of social media is those sites that facilitate the sharing of visual contents like photographs, illustrations, and infographics. Instagram and Pinterest are examples of such sites. Most of the audience for such sites is from the young generation. Sites like Pinterest and Instagram are used extensively selling fashion clothing and cosmetics.
There are many other types of social media sites available like video sharing sites like YouTube, Blogger sites, Social Shopping Networks, and so on. However, it is better to start with an account in the most popular Social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
How Barack Obama used social media extensively to win US presidential elections is a case study in many business schools now. Starting a systematic campaign on social media using the inputs from psychology and sociology can help to develop your business and increase sales.
How to begin? Some questions.
When you use social media for business promotion, the first decision to take is which media to choose? This decision can be objectively taken by answering three questions. 1) What is your business model? 2) Who is your target audience? 3) What is your goal?
What is your business model?
There are two types of businesses based on transactions. B to C and B to B. B to C stands for business to customer in a B to C business the end-user will be a person. For example, End your of toilet soap manufacturing company is a person. The person using the soap is the customer of the company. B to B stands for business to business in this model the end-user of the product will be another business. For example, a company extracting natural oils from spices sell it’s products to other business like restaurants, bakeries or catering services where food is mass-produced.
Ideal social media to promote a B to C business are popular social network sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, etc., where most of the users and the general population. For a B to B business it is better to promote on sites like LinkedIn which is a professional networking site.
Who is your target audience or the customer?
Who is using your products? Where do they live? Male or Female? What is their average age? What are their educational qualifications? What is their socio-economic background? Answering these questions will give you a customer profile. Based on the customer profile you can make effective decisions on which social media to choose, which language to use, and the type of visual to be used in the messages, etc.
What is your goal?
What is your purpose in using social media to promote business? Usually, there are three goals when people use social media for their business. 1) Promote the brand 2) Connect with customers 3) Promote sales. Prioritise these purposes and based on that decide which social media is suitable for your business.
Every social media has its features, understanding this you will be able to make a better decision on which media to choose. It is good to have social media presence in all available channels, however, it is wise to limit your choice to two or three social media
Social media strategy
The next step in the process is to make a detailed plan showing what kind of message needs to be published on which media at what time. This planning documentation is called a social media strategy. To prepare an effective social media strategy it is necessary to look out for what other businesses similar to you’s are doing on social media. Such listening will provide useful insights about when to communicate what, and how in social media.
To understand what is happening in your industry and within your specific field, there are certain free services available like Google trends and Google alerts. Once social media communication begins you will get a lot of insights, which can be used to modify social media started strategy.
There are three major components of every social media strategy 1) Content Strategy 2) Accurate information about target audience 3) Time table to indicate the schedule of posting in each channel.
Social media messages for business promotion can contain general information about the industry, information about brands, and specific information about the products. A good content strategy will prioritize among these types of content, considering the business goals and target audience.
Prepare as much as target audience groups as possible. For example, A group for male members living in Kochi City of age from 20 to 30 and another for the same type of members, ages 30 to 40. Learn about your audience and make as many different groups as possible based on the data indicating the sex, age, interests, and geographical location. This will facilitate maximizing the reach of messages cost-effectively.
Prepare a timetable that indicates which message to go on which media at what time. Some particular posts will perform better at some particular time. For example, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. is the best time to post messages targeting the housewives. The performance of a post can be observed from the analytics data provided by most of the social media. This information can be feedback to improve social media strategy.
Social media provides tools to advertise your message. Utilize this facility with proper awareness to maximize the results. Start advertising, take feedback, and improve the strategies is the best workflow to follow.
All social media activities for business needs to begin with adequate preparations as mentioned above. Algorithms of social media are undergoing constant changes. So it is not practical to give a ‘dos and don’ts’ list of activities. However, the above-mentioned preparations are valid in any type of social media marketing context.
Social media is a group of people that is growing day by day in numbers. All modern technologies like big-data analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc. are enhancing and empowering the social media experience of the customer. So do not hesitate to enter into this gold mine of opportunities.