A Business Owners Perspective on Social Media
This discussion piece is for business owners seeking a no-frills explanation on how social media can add value to their business.
The post will cover the following:
What is the fundamental change to marketing that businesses must be aware of.
How social media tools can help with success in this new marketing environment.
How our business utilizes some of the social media tools to help retain our existing customers and attract then convert our target prospects.
But first lets get down to why you are here. I assume as a business owner you are seeking the answers to the following:
Will social media help my business increase revenue?
How much effort is involved and what skills and resources do I need?
Is this just some glossy hype for consultants to sell me stuff I don’t need?
This discussion piece is not about selling you into social media. Its about showing you that social media tools can help your business adapt to the fundamental changes taking place within marketing which all business owners know is happening but have no idea what to do.
So in essence social media is the effect not the cause for change. You first need to understand why social media has ramped up in importance for business.
So what is the fundamental change in marketing?
Answer the questions below.
When was the last time you clicked on a web site banner (or for that matter even noticed the banners on a web site)?
When was the last time you even read an unsolicited email that was sent to you from a business?
When was the last time you answered the telemarketers questions?
When was the last time you bothered to read the averts within a newspaper?
If the answer is “don’t know” to the questions above you are not alone. Your prospects and clients are answering “don’t know” as well.
The fundamental change for business is the change from “Outbound Marketing” to “Inbound Marketing”.
Inbound Marketing – The shift in how people interact with your business The bulk of businesses today have an “Outbound” marketing strategy that is focused on disrupting the recipient in order to get the message across.
Outbound marketing use tools that cause disruption such as telemarketing, unsolicited (opt-out) emails, unsolicited postal mail and adverts within printed media.
Its all about pushing your wares in-front of the consumer even when they are not interested.
People (including yourself) have either devised ways to ignore the disruption or employed tools that do the blocking for you such as CallerID, spam filters or email cleaning filters and the trusty trash bin for postal mail. This is creating a virtual brick wall against the disruption.
Marketers have in fact shot themselves in the foot by over disrupting people enough that now they are considered an annoyance and even worse ignored.
This is where inbound marketing is maturing and replacing outbound.
Instead of attempting (and now failing) to disrupt people why not encourage a relationship between you, the business, and your customers and prospects where they talk and you listen (and respond).
Inbound marketing is about building a relationship with your consumers and prospects with the intention of establishing open and transparent communication channels. The key thing here is that you as a business actually listen and respond.
Examples of inbound marketing tools are blogs, forums, Twitter and chat.
How we use social media tools to support inbound marketing Here is an example of how we use inbound marketing to attract new customers and keep existing customers happy by using social media tools which are perfect for inbound marketing.
First off we have created a blog that our staff can contribute posts to such as software updates, business social events, customer support FAQ’s but the most important topic that is fundamental to our customers and prospects is our research findings on email marketing. A blog is an ideal tool to transmit our research data to the public in a way that is easy categorized, read and archived.