Marketing your business in this increasingly digitally connected world is no mean feat. Here’s how social media can help you grow your business.

Social media has become an integral part of a brand’s marketing push in recent years. The proliferation of platforms only adds to the number of possibilities for you to promote your business, but it also creates headaches for business owners trying to tackle this sometimes complex area of marketing.

But the effort can be worth it. We’ve all heard the success stories of brands turning to social media to market their business, experiencing phenomenal sales growth in the process.

A landmark study by Sensis surveyed 800 Australian consumers and 1,100 businesses in 2015 to understand how social media channels are being used.

It found that half of social media users who research products and services on their favoured platforms made a purchase, and two thirds of them made that purchase online.

Moreover, the survey found consumers are more likely to trust a brand if it interacts in a positive way with its customers on social media.

Therefore it’s paramount for businesses and marketers to establish a connection by engaging with people in a meaningful way, such as sharing stories about your brand, products or services in a compelling and engaging format.

The report explains that tangible benefits also attract customers like discounts, give-aways and coupons; yet some users are seeking event invitations, tips and advice or an opportunity to provide feedback.

Potential advantages of social media can include: 

  • Reduced marketing costs
  • Increased sales
  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Improved ranking on search engines
  • Greater customer engagement
  • Greater access to international markets
  • Opportunity for customer feedback
  • Opportunity to conduct market research about your customers
  • Improved networking opportunities with customers and other businesses

Source: business.gov.au

Sydney fashion retailer’s phenomenal growth

Brands like online fashion retailer Showpo, which launched from a Sydney garage in 2010, used social media to help turn over $10 million in 2015.

Founder Jane Lu turned to social media to build loyal customers and brand ambassadors. While initially defeated by the overwhelming amount there was to learn about it, the business soon began to get some runs on the board.

Today, Showpo boasts 1.1million Instagram followers, a Facebook community of more than 756,000 and a YouTube account with more than 44,000 subscribers.

Lu admits she made a conscious effort to spend time learning how it works, with 70% of her marketing budget spent on social media. “We put in way more time now as we have so many more channels, and have increased the posting frequency. Obviously, our team is bigger than early days, so we have a few people managing accounts but I never take my eyes off them,” Lu says.

When used effectively, social media can have all the benefits of word of mouth, but on a larger scale. If you’re utilising the right channels for your business, it can also help you reach a high number of potential customers. Then there’s revenue generation, brand development, attracting customers, networking, recruitment and improving your brand’s online presence, as this Federal Government business website points out.

Make a plan before you post

It is important to bear in mind that while social media provides a valuable two-way dialogue for brands, it still carries the same risks as any traditional form of communication in a public arena. For example, conversations can get out of hand pretty quickly in the heat of the moment, as The Communications Council, Social Media Code of Conduct points out.

The code recommends that brands start with a crisis management plan, which is imperative given the possibility of negative publicity and subsequent damage to brand reputation. Transparency, accuracy, professionalism, fairness and being responsible is also paramount, it says. 

Also, an important element of risk management is making sure you have a clear goal when you set out to post, and that you are regularly dipping into social media throughout the day to keep on top of comments and shares that relate to your business.

The other important piece of the puzzle is measuring the effectiveness of your social media presence. There are plenty of free and paid-for platforms to do this, listed here.

Make sure that you’re adequately insured at this point, to cover any unexpected issues such as a cyber hack.

Top social media networking sites used by Australians in 2016:

  • 93% Facebook

  • 28% LinkedIn

  • 23% Google+

  • 17% Twitter

  • 17% Pinterest

  • 15% Snapchat

  • 5% Tumblr

  • 3% Vine

  • 3% Yelp

  • 1% Foursquare

Source: Sensis Social Media Report May 2015.

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