Don’t Be Antisocial

May 17, 2016

If social media isn’t part of your company’s marketing plan, your brand may lose visibility

By Martha Spizziri

A year or two ago, companies may have been able to treat social media as an afterthought in their marketing efforts. But no more. If your organization isn’t integrating social media into its marketing plan, it’s a pretty sure bet your brand will fade into the background in consumers’ minds.

“It’s really not something you can ignore any longer, because [for] the younger demographic, this is their primary source of information. And if they can’t find it on your [social media] page, then they’re going to go to a company where they can find it,” says Jennifer Brinks, a social media consultant at The F.P. Horak Company in Saginaw, Mich.

But if you think you can ignore social media because your target audience skews older, think again. “The older demographic is the highest-growing fan base,” says Brinks. “They are getting
on board with technology, and they have more time to learn and
be online.”

There’s another compelling reason to go social: negative customer feedback can spread quickly on social sites. If a company has built up a following there, it has a platform from which it can react quickly and reach people in that same venue to address any negative perception.

And if those reasons aren’t convincing enough, here’s another: People have become immune to online advertising. There’s a phenomenon known as “banner blindness,” whereby people tend not to even look at the parts of a website—such as the right-hand column—where the ads usually are. With social media, you can get users’ attention back—if you do it right.

Which platform should you use?

If you’re just starting to get serious about social media, it’s important to consider who your target audience is, which platforms they’re using, and which are best suited for your product. For instance, the food industry thrives on photos, so image-heavy sites, such as Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram, work well in that sector. But there’s no need to be on every platform out there. “See which ones you can manage, and do those ones really well, instead of trying to be on all of them and do them all not very well,” says Brinks.

Learn the social graces

Social sites create a space where people can talk about your brand and you can interact with them. “You can build a loyal base and educate your fans on why they should do business with you,” says Brinks. But you have to do it subtly.

“You can’t just say, ‘Hey, buy my product,’ because that would still come off as blatant advertising,” says Brinks. Instead, companies should provide useful information, promoting good content and good causes—and not necessarily just your own.

There’s no excuse not to participate

Although retail and service industries tend to generate more fans and interaction than other businesses, it doesn’t mean you’re not benefiting if your social media efforts don’t achieve similar levels.

“Every business—consumer-oriented or business-to-business—has a customer base, a potential fan base. It’s just [a matter of] finding those customers who want that information and appealing to them, and going to where they are going to be,” says Brinks. You can accomplish that through cross-promotions with traditional marketing. “Social media should be on everything: business cards, flyers, magazine ads, billboards, TV, etc.,” she emphasizes.

But what if your staff is just stretched too thin to take on another project? Brinks has an answer for that: “If you don’t have the passion, time, or dedication to run these social platforms, then outsourcing is a must.”