Social Media: From a Trickle to a Roar
The Importance of Entering the Social Media Storm
Over the last several years, social media has become an increasingly prominent force in society. Coupled with the fact that there are so many new and unique social network platforms that launch each year, the prospect of acclimating your business to its rapidly changing demands can be paralyzing. The way that the average person communicates with others, searches for information, and spends their free time is changing. As designers it is our job to keep up to date with the habits and preferences of our clients and customers. Although for many the task can seem to be a lot of effort with a marginal return, I am here to assure you that is not the case. With all the confusion that comes from a shift in the way that people communicate, there is also an equally beneficial opportunity.
What the numbers tell us
According to Facebook’s official Newsroom there are an average of 1.09 billion daily active users as of March 2016, approximately 84.2% of which are outside the US and Canada. Immediately this tells us two things: One, there is potential to reach a large amount of consumers. Two, it is yet another way to reach potential customers that would normally prove more difficult, based on the location of your business. According to Hubspot, 70% of B2C companies have acquired a new customer through Facebook and 43% of US marketers have found a new customer from LinkedIn. This number is growing rapidly as more and more online businesses begin establishing their own social media presence.
Time is of the essence and mobility is a must
As the needs and demands of our society increase, our leisure time, and unfortunately our patience, tends to decrease. If a website isn’t fast, we move on. If a website isn’t easy, we lose interest. As designers trying to capture and hold the interest of our audience we have to make it as easy and enjoyable an experience as possible. This entails many things from use of color and tone, to efficiency, and ease of access. However one of the things that has come to the forefront with the rise of social media is the usage of mobile devices to access it. Recently the amount of people sitting down at a computer to log in to their social media account has been dropping rapidly, falling to only 21% in 2015. So the need to adjust our tactics to accommodate for that rapid change is key to our success as designers. Making websites more responsive and designing with the priority of mobile use in mind.
Connections, and How They Fit Into Our E-commerce Goals
So, what role do all of these changing social media channels play in our online business? Do we simply conduct our social media presence in the same way we manage our main business page? While that is certainly an option, if you want your social media outlets to have the greatest impact they must be handled differently. Two of the main purposes of social media are to connect with others and to share information. So in order to maximize our potential effectiveness as businesses, we have to make use of those two main purposes.
Flooding someone’s feed with direct advertising to see what sticks would be a waste of social media’s unique platform. Sites like Facebook and Twitter provide businesses an opportunity to give your company a voice and interact with your consumers on a personal and friendly basis, showing them what makes your brand unique. It provides a chance to reach out to them and bridge the gap between business and customer, in a way that conventional advertising cannot. The second main purpose of most social media is the sharing of information. As a business this sharing of information is invaluable. When consumers see your product or blog they will often pass your post on to their friends through any number of sharing methods. This is great for your business as it essentially acts as free and unpaid advertising. As a bonus it is coming from a trusted friend as opposed to a business, making the recipient of your information far more likely to stop and look at it.
The Different Social Media Platforms and How to Address Them
How should businesses approach these different channels? While each social media platform is different they still utilize the two principles stated above, the only real difference is the methods in which they convey their information.
Facebook is by far the largest and most versatile of the social media giants, allowing for everything from informational posts to pictures and videos. Try to post relevant and informational content, focusing on sales, promotions, and industry updates.
Instagram uses picture and video based content, eye catching visuals and high quality product photography should be the goals here. Try and appeal to the environment and lifestyles that many of your consumers live in, showing pictures of your products in action. Apparel stores should show people taking their products to interesting and exotic places, tire companies should show the tires being put to the test. If you’re business is short on funds or starting up, host a competition, open up to the community with giveaways or brand representative opportunities. Have the community take your product to new highs and reward them for it. Doing this provides free advertising but more importantly gives your consumers a chance to play an active role in your business.
Twitter focuses on popularity and interacting with your audience, raising awareness and staying active are key. The idea here is very similar to facebook and should be handled in much the same way, using posts and updates to get your name and brand identity out there.
Linkedin is a place to see how other CEO’s and business executives interact. As a result many of the heavy hitters in the business industry go here to connect as well as share their ideas and inspirations. Much of the business promotion here should be more indirect and focus on how you manage and run your company. Pictures and other visuals are important, as well as frequent content updates. Staying active can help you stay on top of the trends and changes in the market as they come down the pipeline.
In the End The Reward is Worth the Effort
With all this being said one thing is obvious: Social media has most certainly gone from a trickle to a roar and savvy businesses are using this to create more personal connections between brand and customer.
With so many new and different social media sites coming out every day the storm of information can seem daunting. However if you are willing to brave those waters, there is also the potential for fantastic opportunities as well.