By Katt Stearns. I hear these questions on a daily basis from people trying to understand how social media can work for them. Social media is a hot buzzword with constant changes and hundreds of new platforms popping up monthly. It’s hard to stay on top of it all and know what to do and where to spend your time.
Even with all these changes I believe that social media is one of the most powerful tools for you as an individual or business. My plan is to help you begin to see the value of social media and not look at it as just another fad.
So let’s take a step back and see how it all comes together …
If you think back to the last couple of movies you saw or restaurants you tried, chances are you made those choices based on a recommendation from a friend, colleague or family member. That is referred to as word-of-mouth or relationship marketing. It’s the oldest and most powerful type of marketing and it’s how things go viral. Years ago, in order to be successful businesses had to have the best products, services and customer experiences so people would share their positive stories with their friends. This would, in turn, bring more customers. Word-of-mouth marketing allowed for businesses and their customers to have a voice.
When businesses moved away from word-of mouth marketing and into mass marketing (TV ads, jingles and billboards), it no longer mattered if you had the best products or services; it didn’t even matter what your customers said about you. If you had the dollars to spend and you had deeper pockets than your competition, you won! Mass marketing also stopped the two-way communication that was present with word-of-mouth marketing.
In the 1980s, a little invention called the Internet started showing up in homes and businesses around the world. In 1998, the launch of Google started to flip the mass marketing model on its head and we began going back to word-of-mouth type marketing. Today, we have thousands of social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. These platforms are changing the way individuals and organizations communicate, share ideas, and grow businesses. Small local businesses and entrepreneurs that don’t have the budgets to compete against Fortune 500 companies need an advantage. Social media can provide an opportunity to be heard and grow—one way is through advocates.
An advocate is an individual who strongly believes in an organization’s values and products. Apple™ users are some of the most dedicated brand advocates. They line up for hours waiting for the latest product release and defend Apple in debates with friends and family. You can quickly tell a passionate Apple client from a PC user. Social Media allows organizations to identify their brand advocates—people who are constantly engaging with their content, using their products or services, and defending them if someone says anything negative; and they are the first there when you have exciting news!
Now you can be heard!
Sharing your talents, passion, ideas, products and business with the world through traditional and mass media took a lot of time and money. Social media still takes some investment, but it allows everyone to have a voice and be heard. Social media goes beyond online conversations and provides a global human connection that is changing the way governments, businesses, and individuals communicate.
Social media helps businesses:
–Identify brand advocates
–Have two-way communication with customers
–Increase exposure and awareness
–Gain insight about customers
–Tell your brand story
–Strengthen customer loyalty
–Be found by customers
–Be seen as an influencer and leader
–Make a difference in the world
Social media helps you as an individual:
–Communicate with your favorite brands
–Turn your passion into a business
–Connect with like-minded people around the world
–Follow your dreams
–Find new ideas and hobbies
–Connect with past friends and colleagues
–Make a difference
Now it’s your turn!
How has social media impacted your life or your business?
Do you think social media is causing one of the biggest culture shifts of our time?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
We all have a story to tell. Capturing it in a manner that engages, educates and entertains your audience requires Strategic Social. Katt Stearns is a social media marketing consultant, speaker and trainer. She has worked with numerous organizations including BC Hydro’s Power Smart, Thompson Rivers University and Mission Folk Music Festival to develop strategic social media strategies that help them share their stories, and make a difference in the world. Katt is also the Director of Social Strategy for We Make Stuff Happen. You can find Katt at KattStearns.com or on Twitter at @KattStearns.