To find the answer, I’m going to start this post off with a survey.
Does your company have a Word-of-Mouth marketing campaign that spreads your company’s marketing messages through online viral marketing channels like Digg, Reddit, and StumbleUponwhich can drive hundreds and thousands of user traffic to your site everyday?
Did you know that 61% of adult and 77% of social networking users tell their friends and relatives about products they find on popular networking websites like MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn (Forrester)? And that people are five times more likely to buy items recommended by friends and relatives (eMarketer)? Have you developed a strong brand presence on these sites to get these people talking about you?
Is your company aware of blogs or forums posts from disgruntled customers or previous employees, negative reviews of your business or products (possibly planted there by your competition), or embarrassing personal details about top executives in your company that can damage your company’s brand and cost you sales?
According to the National Retail Federation, over 92 percent of adults regularly or occasionally research products online before buying them in a store. When they research your company and its products, are you sure they’re getting an accurate picture of your company and what it can do for them?
If you answered no to most of these questions, then building a social media strategy might be next on your lists of things that needed to be done yesterday.
Just The Facts, Ma’am
More and more, businesses are realizing that their customers are actively using social media and are beginning to seriously integrate them into their overall marketing strategies.
On a company level, according to a recent study conducted by The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, the number of Inc 500 companies who reported that social media is very important to their business/marketing strategy has increased 44% from 2007 to 2008 alone.
On a demographic level, according to Forrester Research, of all online US consumers, 56% are active social media users and 76% regularly use social media technologies like product reviews that heavily influence their purchase decisions.
Bottom line, for you as a business owner, this means that your customers are using social media, and it is and will continue to affect your business regardless of whether your company realizes it, uses it, and understands it well enough to take advantage.
Take Advantage of Social Media
To start taking advantage of social media, there are a few things you can do:
- Spend some time browsing through major social media sites like Digg, YouTube, and Facebook. This is invaluable for helping you determine whether each site and their target audiences are a good fit for your company.
- Look through examples of successful social media campaigns. There’s a large and growing number of companies that have been successful with social media. Here are two blog posts that list some of the better ones: 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action and 110 Ways Retailers are Using Social Media Marketing.
- Read through social media industry blogs to get a feel for what’s happening in the space. Three that I recommend are Mashable, SocialMediaToday, and Sphinn.
Join The Conversation
Every business needs to be involved in social media in some way, whether it’s to connect with their customers, build their brand, or make sure that everything floating around about them is positive and accurate. Your customers are talking about you. Might as well join the conversation!