Social media has transformed the way we connect with each other both personally and professionally. It allows us to share our thoughts, opinions, experiences, and ideas with the world. What does this mean for businesses? People are educating themselves and forming opinions about brands by listening to what others have to say. They are comparing prices, rating products, and writing reviews on line about their experiences. Businesses can’t afford to ignore social media.
What are the challenges businesses face when taking a brand social?
One of the biggest challenges businesses face with social media, is a lack of understanding of how to properly connect with customers. Schaefer (2012) notes that “people are sick of being sold to, marketed to, and tricked into clicking on links to unwanted products” (p. 19). Businesses must realize that the way to connect with their customers is through sharing meaningful content. In fact, Schaefer further states that “content is the currency of the social web, and sharing that content is the catalyst to new relationships and business benefits” (p. 16).
Li and Bernoff (2011) conclude that “your brand is whatever your customers say it is, and in the groundswell where they communicate with each other, they decide” (p. 78). In order to understand what customers think and what their needs are, businesses must listen. The abundance of social media sites can be overwhelming. Tools like Hootsuite provide the ideal solution to monitoring multiple platforms at once.
Businesses struggle with loss of control and the fact that their content is copied, edited, and passed on across the web. Once information is published, it can’t be retracted. People can say anything they want about your brand. This is where listening comes into play. The faster a company responds, the better. A disaster plan is critical.
Allocating resources is another issue facing businesses. Social media must be taken seriously, and resources must be dedicated to it. Top management buy-in is essential to success. Experienced individuals with a solid understanding of the business, marketing, and social media should be appointed to oversee social media efforts and create an effective social media marketing strategy.
Many organizations resist empowering their employees to engage with customers online for fear of interacting inappropriately or releasing proprietary information. Companies fail to realize that by restricting access, they are not only demotivating employees, but ignoring potential brand ambassadors!
Calculating return on investment can be difficult. Below are some ways businesses can measure engagement:
- Monitoring incoming web traffic from social media
- Message amplification (# of retweets/1000 followers, # of retweets/day)
- Conversation rate (# of replies sent daily, number of replies received daily)
- % increase in followers over time
- RSS feed subscribes
- Number of comments
Now let’s talk about the challenges businesses face by not participating in social media:
Whether you like it or not, people are talking about your brand online. Wouldn’t you rather be a part of the conversation? A negative review could be a PR nightmare. It’s better to be involved and be able to take action quickly.
Clearly, it makes good business sense to participate in social media. In order for it to be successful, however, social media must be taken seriously and a strategic plan should be created.
Brogan, C. (2013). Google+ for Business. (2nd ed.) Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing.
Li, C., Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press.
Schaefer, M. (2012). The Tao of Twitter. McGraw-Hill.
Stelzner, M. (October 7, 2013). How Google Analytics is Impacting Business . Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-google-analytics-is-impacting-business/
Watson Helsby (2010). Digital Communications and Social Media: The challenges facing the PR industry. [PDF file]. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/31722606/Digital-Communications-and-Social-Media-the-Challenges-Facing-the-PR-Industry#download