There’s no doubt that social media is a huge phenomenon. Everywhere you turn, you can find social media platforms – from Facebook to Twitter and MySpace. The most popular social media site, however, seems to be LinkedIn. Many business professionals are now jumping on the social media bandwagon, but what is it really about this site that makes people want to connect?
First of all, it’s important to understand the basic definition of social media and business. Social media typically refers to the sites, applications, or social media tools or devices which allow users to easily share information online with others, and engage in interactive communication with others. In short, it’s the “online social” part of the term. The phenomenon of social media and business is actually growing so rapidly because the vast majority of us have at one time or another engaged in some kind of social media networking, whether it be by posting online or connecting with friends and colleagues through email or Instant Messenger.
So how can you use social media to your benefit? There are several key components you need to integrate into your social media marketing strategy. The first of these is the target audience. You need to identify your target audience and ensure that you are communicating with them in the most appropriate fashion. This requires a careful study of your target market and a concerted effort to find out what their needs and wants are, as well as learning as much about them as you can.
One of the major dangers posed by social media is that many individuals and businesses use it as a “peel-off” technique to isolate individuals and businesses from their real or potential social network. The danger in this is that people begin to think that they have an “in” or “need” to be “friends” with that person or company. They think that they can use social media to bypass normal channels of communication or obtain some type of “edge” over their competitors, because the other person is not part of their “friends” or network. While this can be frustrating and somewhat ego-driven (think of it as a social media company that’s taking advantage of their client’s “inner circle”), it’s also dangerous because it can create an atmosphere of mistrust and “fiefdoms.”
Another danger posed by social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace is that they become centers of opinion rather than solid business relationships. There are endless opinions, hoaxes, and half-truths pervasive throughout social media sites. This creates a “filter” through which consumers can choose only those items that reinforce their preexisting beliefs. It is important for businesses and consumers alike to be aware of this danger. You will do yourself a great disservice by permitting opinions to dictate your core beliefs.
This is where an Instagram marketing strategy comes in to help. Businesses should take the time to look at Instagram, Facebook, and their other competitor’s social media marketing strategy, and create a post on their page that is completely unspoiled. In other words, the pictures posted on their page should be a representation of what the company offers and nothing else. Businesses should post pictures of products, services, and their employees, but they should also post images of the company logo and website.
Finally, another grave threat to the social media platforms is that they have become places where hate is shared and advocated. This is no doubt due to the fact that the people who use social media platforms feel more free to express their opinions than they would in public settings. This is bad news for businesses trying to spread the word about their company and is why companies that wish to grow and thrive on social media should consider implementing a Hate Speech Policy. This policy will ensure that all employees, customers, and vendors are aware of their company’s rules regarding hateful speech.
In this final step, the business should consider the target audience. If the business has an image to maintain of being progressive and down to earth, it may not be a good idea to target younger generations with social media marketing strategy. The key is to look at the larger picture and realize that the world we live in changes all the time, and what was once popular or accepted decades ago may not be viewed as such today. While a business owner may feel like they are always being viewed as an employer who promotes equality, diversity, and professionalism, this is not always the case. Therefore, the business owner should carefully consider the age groups that they are trying to reach with their social media marketing strategy and avoid targeting younger generations with messages that are not applicable anymore.