The influence of social networks is each day more palpable all over the world. However, even if it is considered by many people to be a novelty which has developed over the last decade, we can say social media is no more than the natural result of the Internet’s evolution towards its own initial objective: to facilitate information exchange between users.
Analyzing social networks, we soon realize they are not just a communication channel but a whole ecosystem characterized by its dynamism. The importance Social Media has lately acquired can’t be denied: with 350 million active users, Facebook’s population is now larger than that of the US.
Internet users used Social Media 56% more in 2008 than the year before. Time spent on social networks has definitely eclipsed the e-mail and its relevance in the advertising ambit has caused the birth of professional figures focused only on managing a brand’s presence on them such as the Community Manager.
Nevertheless, even the magnitude of the Social Media phenomenon, companies’ understanding of them appears quite limited. A lot of companies have decided to release public profiles in several social networks without adequate knowledge or a consistent communication strategy. In this case, any action you take socially can go against you at any time.
The reason why is because Social Media has two particular characteristics that it doesn’t share with any other media and that are absolutely necessary to keep in mind:
- Consumers can speak absolutely freely
- Companies can’t control all the information about them on the net.
Thus, the objective of this post is to highlight some of the key issues that will help your brand to obtain profitable results through Social Media.
Before starting, you need to internalize this idea: social networks are powered by people, not brands. Repeat it as many times as it takes. The goal is not to sell, but to inspire people to talk positively about our brand, generating confidence. We want to create a distinctive and attractive brand point of view for our users from which we will be able to create a whole brand experience reflecting our personality.
So now, the first step will be to decide in which social networks you want to have a presence and analyze them. Each one attracts certain groups of people so you will make your choice based on the target group you want to reach and the message you want to transmit.
Once you have made up your mind, the next step is quite easy: listen. This is maybe the most important part of the process. Find out what your consumers like to talk about, what they would like to hear, what they consider funny, boring, enjoyable…
Now, give it to them. Give them ideas, anecdotes, stories… they will find interesting and pass on. But do not stay there. Satisfy their expectations and exceed them;
“The strongest driver of positive recommendation is an experience that exceeds expectation”
This is, basically, the process your brand must follow to introduce itself into the Social Media world:
Think – Choose – Listen –Offer
Moreover, it is necessary to respect some rules:
- Be logical: first of all, be consistent between your social media activities and those you carry out in other media. They must be all aligned.
- Do not bore me: do not limit yourself to responding to negative commentaries of your products or your brand. You must get involved in your consumers’ conversations and offer them original and interesting content constantly.
- Why so serious? Remember again: you are not selling. Avoid commercial commentaries or an overly-professional tone.
- Don’t play dirty! Never underestimate Internet users. Never expect that other participants won’t find out who is behind an anonymous user account.