Yep, that’s right, social media sites are no longer merely for posting selfies and talking about what you had for lunch. From a business standpoint, it’s been fairly easy to dismiss social media platforms as nothing more than sources of entertainment and human connection; nothing for big businesses there … right? Well, in the past couple of years, businesses large and small—from mom and pop establishments to major corporations—have started seeing the potential that these far-reaching platforms possess. Now, with virtually every major company making their presence known everywhere from Twitter and Tumblr, to YouTube and beyond, the potential for success correlates to billions of dollars.
It all started, really, with the general rise of social media and the way in which it’s changed the way in which society functions. We live in a far more interconnected age than even ten years ago, with instant access to people and information right at our fingertips. Laptops; smartphones; tablets; an endless array of apps for all of the above, all of these things have closed the gaps between people all over the world. Today, there’s a greater sense of community, as what happens in one area of the globe can be immediately shared between separate cultures thousands of miles apart. Everything can be seen and heard instantly, trends established faster, and ideas and movements recognized more easily and quickly.
So, why not have a brand’s message passed around to hundreds of thousands of people almost instantly? Obviously, plenty of people somewhere threw out plenty of such questions, and now the way in which business markets itself has drastically changed. Everyone from fashion houses and electronics corporations to major fast food chains now have Twitter accounts where they not only introduce their products, but interact with the public. Corporations have had a notoriously bad reputation for being out of touch and impersonal, but now we find brand ambassadors responding to average people with hilarious and even snarky tweets that become viral hits. It’s this exact touch of humanism that’s changing the market.
Brave New World:
The rise of social media has created a massive power boost to the influence of pop culture, with everything from views on social issues to the popularity of certain memes (breadsticks are very in right now) paving the way for what’s relevant, trendy, and desirable. Businesses have learned to capitalize on this, and it’s really not that difficult of a task to accomplish. With a persistent presence on Pinterest or on YouTube, through ads or quirky short videos, a brand’s image can be quickly established, altered, or expanded.
Presence in these social media realms also generates immediate, real-time results for companies looking to keep up with or anticipate emerging trends—trends that might skyrocket profit margins. Businesses and marketing agencies used to have to wait anywhere from weeks to months to get a feel for how their advertising campaigns were being received or how the mindsets of consumers were changing, but, with social media, these are factors that can be monitored day by day; hour by hour; minute by minute.
Slide to the Left:
Just getting online and opening up an account with various social media platforms and randomly posting things isn’t exactly going to cut it. So, for those looking to capitalize on what social media can offer for their business, how do they slide to the side and avoid any pitfalls? For starters, it pays to invest in a good team if you have the resources and scale of business to require it. It’s beneficial to have a group of tech-minded individuals operating the social media aspect of your marketing, if for nothing more than continuity’s sake. It’s obvious to consumers when tweets or posts come from random individuals at irregular intervals, so it’s better to have the same sort of tone featured and to have posts appear quite regularly.
Businesses also miss out on important opportunities to interact with their consumers and potential consumers. This is social media; the whole idea is to socialize, to interact. Consistently reply to tweets and comments, no matter if it’s about products and services, or if they’re just jokes. Again, this is supposed to be big business showing a human face, so don’t come off like a robot. And, whatever you do, don’t become too complacent. Technology rapidly changes, and, thus, online platforms and access to them. Companies that are willing to try out new apps and ad techniques are more likely to perform better, because they’re able to move along with trends in social media, unlike their counterparts who got too comfortable and are still utilizing technology that consumers have already moved on from.