Know Your Social: 2014

Every business needs to promote its products and services, build a brand, develop a network of customers, and make sales. It’s been like this since trade began and it continues to be so- it’s just that the way trade is done in today’s digital landscape is a lot different.

It is now much tougher for businesses to promote and sell. And it’s only going to get harder. If you own a business and want to start taking advantage of social media, here are a few things you should know:

1. It’s crucial to decide exactly what you want to get out of social media.

Do you want to build your brand? Do you want to build up a network of potential customers? Do you need sales? There are ways to make these things happen provided you do them at the right time- the key here are relationships. If ‘anything goes’, then you’re doing social media the wrong way.

No matter how much planning you do, sometimes the best inspiration follows an impromptu moment. The Oreo Super Bowl blackout moment is a perfect example of this. Social media marketing and engagement needs to have room to be spontaneous, topical and relevant. The trending topics and hashtags will be even more important throughout 2014.

2. Social media is the last place on earth for you to push your products. It’s just not designed for this. Social media is about building relationships- about building a network. And it is from this strong and trusted network that sales might happen.

A good example of a well-known high-street shop using an online network to generate sales is New Look. New Look invite people to join their online networks in return for exclusive sales and offers. This makes people feel special and as though they have a relationship with the company or local shop.

To build such a network, you must be a giver. Give away information and insights before you start requesting people sign up to your newsletter. You have to be valued before people will invest in you.

It’s rumoured that cars will be able to connect with 4G at some point during 2014. Also, our homes are getting smarter; TVs, games consoles, domestic appliances- they’re all connected to the WiFi network. This offers huge opportunities for the integration of social networks with every day life and deeper personalisation for brand builders.

3. Find a voice.

Adopt a new way to interact with potential customers on social networks. It’s strange to think that digital conversations that seem to be going nowhere should now be part of your marketing strategy, but that’s just how the Internet – and especially social media – is evolving.

4. Every time you want to update your social media status, think about this: What are my fans and followers getting out of this?

If you hadn’t noticed, there’s a bit of a shift going on. It’s no longer about your business, your products, your services or brand anymore. It’s about value. As long as you keep providing value, you’ll be able to make social media work for you.

Whether they like it or not, every brand is now a publisher. Brand investment in photo, audio and video content will continue this year, alongside an evolution of what content goes on a brand’s social media feed. Engagement is the number one metric for social media marketing, and brands will look to delight, surprise, educate, excite and entertain their fans and followers this year through a spectrum digital content.

5. All too often a business will set up a social media channel and then suddenly stop using it. They will have bursts of activity and then vanish.

Consistency on social media is vital. But this can be difficult. The world of social media is so vast and evolving so quickly that it can be easy to get lost. It’s hard to maintain conversations with strangers, and may seem unnatural to spend so much time on social never actually knowing what brings in the sale. And yet that’s the way it is. There’s certainly ‘social’ in social media.

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