Social media platforms have become integrated into our society at a blistering rate, and in particular since the onset of covid19. We are firmly in the era of constant connectivity and instant gratification. This is now a fact of life for both individuals and business operators. Businesses know that to remain relevant in this new landscape, they need to utilise these platforms both to engage new customers and to connect with existing customers in new ways. While a company may have a marketing strategy that includes various forms of advertising, social media should be considered as a main component.
Even using a conservative estimate, there are over 1.5 billion users of social media globally – each one a consumer in some form. Social media platforms – facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, among others – can be leveraged to create new opportunities for business growth. Unfortunately, the How of accomplishing that goal is not as clear-cut. It is more than setting up a page and occasionally posting about your day-to-day activities. Utilising social media for business is far more complex than it is for an individual, and far more difficult to engage beyond a mundane “like” and achieve a real, measurable return on investment. And what exactly is “engagement” anyway?
Members of the public who are truly engaged will like, share, re-tweet, comment and follow your posts. While it is a long-term undertaking, providers may achieve see immediate results, especially for highly interactive sites. Overall, it ensures that your product or service is known and established in people’s minds. It has been demonstrated that in the US, customers who follow their brand on social media tend to be more loyal, as opposed to those who do not.
According to the website datareportal.com Trinidad and Tobago’s social media users stood at 860,000 in January 2020. This represented a 4.7 per cent (38,000 users) increase since April 2019. Overall, in January 2020, social media penetration locally stood at 62 per cent. In the intervening 12 months to January 2021, with the accelerated shift to online technologies, it is reasonable to assume that another significant increase in social media usage has happened. There is, one might say, a growing opportunity to expand the reach of your business.
For the customer, social media personalises the brand. Corporations today strive to get past the image of facelessness, and social media is the ideal tool for doing so. Through these engagements, companies can gain valuable insights about their customers through their comments and other feedback. It also allows companies to take a hands-on approach to customer care and cuts down on response time to complaints.
One common misconception however, is that there is no cost for social media. While it could be less expensive than traditional advertising, marketing and public relations, a properly developed and executed social media strategy is best undertaken by the experts. And as with any other business expenditure, care must be taken to ensure that providers are reputable and reliable.
Managed properly, social media is an effective communication tool to manage conversations about your brand or business, create awareness and even drive sales. Utilising the right tools, social media can become an efficient resource to disseminate information and connect with your audience. If ever there was a time to work social media into your strategy, that time is now.
* Column courtesy the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce.