Social media is "the" go-to medium for reaching customers

By Alicja Gados

There are over two billion users on Facebook and over a billion of them are active on the platform at least once a month, so what does that mean for marketers trying to reach their target audience?  Even though Facebook users, and all social media users come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from different parts of the world, most people do use some sort of social media regularly.  This means that people are everywhere in social media - if you just look at the numbers alone.  All companies, even business-to-business companies should directing most of their marketing efforts through the social media medium.

Social media: it’s where the people are

It’s no accident that social media has become “the” go to medium even for business-to-business sales.  Business sales and marketing people scroll through LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter groups to generate leads and covert them to sales. This is because it actually works. The law of averages means that, this is where the people are, and you’ll almost be guaranteed to find your particular target audience on social media. 

Targeting options are very advanced these days, and it’s only getting easier and easier to reach your target audience as analytics become more sophisticated. Gone are the days when it was difficult to find your target audience: paid advertising choices have come a long ways in the last few years.  It started when Facebook began charging for marketing, effectively destroying organic reach. Though this annoyed some marketers who were used to this free exposure, the strategy has actually improved analytical ability to an impressive degree. Now, even though you have to ‘pay to play’, you’ll be able to much better segment your audience based on interests, age, gender, age range and location, instead of throwing a shot in the dark like before to an unspecified audience. The rich customer data is now collected by companies is used to refine targeting even further, and to convert leads into sales.

Technology is improving steadily.  This trend of targeting is spearheaded by Google search, with social media following closely behind. We can only expect it to continue to grow, and for customer data and purchasing trends to become even more precise.  

Social media to engage

So how does it work?  Quite the opposite to traditional advertising, social media should not be used to ‘’push” products and services, but as a way to engage. For example, business-to-business (B2B) industries know that they need to curate a relationship before they can convince a potential customer to make a purchase with them.  This is where social media comes in: social media excels at building relationships; it was designed to foster communications between people.  Easy to access, easy to use, and there are a lot of people using it. 

Socially, between friends, social media is a way where people come together and bond over common causes and shared interests.  It’s also become the platform and favourite method of customers, whether old, new or potential, to come to an organization and inquire, or weigh in on company offerings.  

So that’s where you should begin: don’t look at it only as a way to reach your audience through targeting, but see it more importantly as a way to engage with them, form a relationship and repertoire.   

Instant Feedback

These days, advertising and engaging happens a lot faster.  Within minutes of posting a piece of content, you can expect interaction, particularly if your content is at the right place, at the right time.  It can work very well if you take advantage of events happening in real time, for example a major sporting event, festival or political event.  This isn’t new and companies have perfected this strategy over the years. What’s different now though, is the fact that you can be in touch with something as it happens, almost instantly or within a matter of minutes. 

This is because most people get their news mainly though social media channels.  In fact, TechCruch states this is 62% of all US adults (source: TechCruch.com).  The top source? You guessed it, no surprise that it’s Facebook – which reaches over 65% of the adult population.  The next most popular sources are YouTube and Twitter. Facebook is growing as a trusted source for news, as is Instagram and LinkedIn. 

It’s easy to join in a conversation with the company or cause you care about surrounding an event.  Companies should use this strategy to boost their public recognition and generate interest in their brand and possible leads. 

Social media is simple to use: find out what your customers are looking for and give it to them. The social media platform is there for you to use and works on the same principles regardless of industry.  To discover more information about your target audience, it’s important to consult with industry experts and even your own customers, old and new, to gain as many different perspectives as possible. Also note it’s important to understand the viewpoint of unhappy customers, to get a balanced viewpoint.    

Just like traditional marketing, only quicker

This is really no different than traditional marketing and advertising, but only one thing has really changed, the timeliness of the information is now much quicker, if not instantaneous, and brand awareness can be curated in real-time during events.  You can reach your audience through a combination of paid search and organic reach. This will allow you to leverage your exposure and motivate people to try your products. 

Social media is one avenue, albeit a very significant and large one, but only the crucial first step in the conversion process.  Once you identify, engage with and retain your target customers, the tough work begins encouraging conversions.  Grow your audience with social media and take the next steps to convert to sales.

 

Sources and Further Reading

Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/07/15/why-social-media-is-a-powerful-tool-for-those-in-b2b-sales/#1180e7f226b3

TechCrunch.com https://techcrunch.com/2016/05/26/most-people-get-their-news-from-social-media-says-report/

Social Media Examiner www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-research-and-locate-your-audience-using-social-media/

 

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