Connecting with your customers

on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Twitter

These days the topic of social media and its ever-growing popularity is a staple of mainstream media. Millions of savvy consumers are already ahead of the curve and have been utilizing social media for years. Many ask what these people could possibly be accomplishing online in the world of Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube. The answer is simple. They are discussing your product.

Social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos, and audio. In short, social media is changing the way in which the world communicates. 

Think of it this way: it took radio 35 years to reach 50 million users. Dozens of social media sites have reached 50 million users in less than 2 years. 

Social media is not a fad; it is a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. The old communication model was a monologue, but with today's shift toward transparency the new communication model is a dialogue.

The average person is exposed to 3000 advertising messages per day. The startling truth is that only 14% of people trust advertisements, that 90% of people who can skip TV ads do so, and that only 18% of consumer advertising campaigns generate a positive return on investment. The good news is that 78% of people trust the recommendations of other consumers. That's where social media comes in to play.

People are talking about your brand right now. If you aren't joining in the conversation you are rolling the dice and trusting that the information being provided is accurate and honest. The easiest way to ensure well informed consumers is to be the one telling the story, and social media is a great place to help spread your message. 

Social networks are communities, and to be fully prepared to engage with them, you have to roll up your sleeves and take part. Listen to the conversations about your company and the industry. Understand what is being said and get a perspective on what you should say; try not to focus solely on an angle to enter the conversation. The goal is not to control the conversation, but to engage the consumer directly so that they become enabled, inspired, and influenced by your brand. These brand champions will then, in turn, promote your products to their network and the resultant positive exposure will be nearly incalculable.

Social media is a tool, not a miracle. However, if done correctly it can lead to an increase in website traffic, an increase in sales leads, enhanced brand awareness, a widened business network, and stronger relationships with your customers. 

From Flickr, LinkedIn, Wikipedia and everything in between, Social media is dramatically changing the way that consumers access information. Take your business to the next level and join the conversation.

Got a question about social media? ASK STARLA 

Starla Middlebrooks is a marketing professional at Overhead Door Corp. She is also an associate of the Institute of Green Professionals, and a member of the Public Relations Society of America.



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