Look at most any blog about marketing and business development for small businesses. You will probably find something written within the last week about how you can utilize social media marketing strategies to attract and win new customers and build loyalty in existing customers. Unfortunately, the research indicates this is just not true. Social media has an important role to play in small business marketing, but success requires social media and more.
The Gallup Study
The Gallup organization recently released findings from a study of over 17,000 users of social media. The study looked at “everything from the latest mobile social media apps to old-school word-0f-mouth” marketing. [http://businessjournal.gallup.com/content/148694/Social-Media-Three-Big-Myths.aspx#2]
The most significant finding of the study is that social media initiatives do
not drive customer acquisition or customer loyalty. In fact, the social
media initiatives of businesses have precious little effect on purchase
decisions by customers. The most significant influence on customers is not
social media. Rather, it is still family members (particularly one’s spouse),
friends, experts, extended family and critics or reviewers.
Indeed, the lowest level of influence recorded by the Gallup study on purchasing
decisions were corporate Twitter posts and company Facebook pages. Notably, just this week another study reported that more than half of all people using the
Internet prefer the company website to all social media when researching
products or services.
The Role of Social Media
The messaging of companies or brands on social media will not win new customers or clients. Success still depends on other marketing efforts. However, social media plays an important role in bringing new customers to your door because of what your customers will say about your business and your products or services to their friends and family members in social media.
This does not mean you should ignore social media. What it means is:
- You need a good, interactive website that sells your products and services by answering customer questions and providing the information that allows them to decide to buy from you.
- You need to draw people to your website by creating and marketing content that builds knowledge and trust.
- You need to create a strong social media presence and listen attentively to what people are (and are not) saying about your company.
- You need to create excellent products and services that meet customer needs and deliver outstanding customer experiences with your company.
- Then, encourage your customers to share with their friends and family members on social media.
How Customers Work for You on Social Media Sites
When your products or services meet the needs of your customers in ways that improve their lives, they become ambassadors of the benefits of doing business with you. When you can enhance need satisfaction with a positive interaction with your company, you build commitment, confidence, and loyalty. If the need you meet in the customer’s life is important to the customer, that customer will become a passionate champion for your business.
The benefit of having your satisfied customers and your passionate champions telling people about your business in social media is the inherent nature of social
media to spread the word farther and faster. Traditional word-of-mouth
endorsements happen when one person tells one other person (or perhaps two or
three). When the endorsements happen on social media, they spread with the click of a button and they are shared again and again to a constantly enlarging set of connected people.
The Bottom Line
What you say about your company and your products or services on social media is not likely to win new customers. Yet you must create the social media presence that allows conversations to occur. Use social media and more to reach and
win new customers. Provide products and/or services that meet important needs in their lives and deliver exceptional customer experiences of doing business with
By creating satisfied customers, and encouraging them to engage others about their experience with your company, you will unleash the passionate brand champions whose recommendations will bring you new customers via social media interactions.
By Staff, Little Black Dog Social Media and More