Social media sites are becoming more ever-present in everyday life. As soon as I wake up, I check my Twitter interactions and scroll through my feed. I will then move on to my Instagram updates and Facebook timeline as I eat my Cheerio’s, eager to find out what I have missed while I was sleeping. On my lunch break, I check up on the blogs I follow and as soon I get home, I sit down and avidly repost to my Pinterest boards.
All of my social media accounts are linked to my work computer, work laptop, my MacBook, boyfriend’s iPad and my iPhone. I receive notifications on all five so, theoretically, wherever I am or whatever I’m doing, it would be hard for me to miss an update. I would confidently put it out there that my daily social media activity and constant connectivity is pretty standard of most twenty-something’s in 2014.
When using social media as a communication tool in business, I would advise to approach with caution. The virtual content organisations put out online, especially on an immediately accessible platforms like Facebook and Twitter, is a very public and direct reflection of the company as a whole.
For me, social media is the first point of contact I make with a company. It’s always the first place I look to find out more about an organisation, whether I’m doing research or simply buying a new dress online. I go to social media pages to find out who is also a ‘fan’ of whoever or whatever I’m looking at. If a friend of mine publicly gives a product the thumbs up (read: ‘likes’) that’s a recommendation in my book. I scroll through feeds looking for offers or voucher codes that companies have tweeted or new products and reviews that have been posted.
But how can I find this information if social media sites are not updated? If an organisation has a Twitter page and its last post was in October 2013, did the company go bust six months ago? I don’t want to order from a company that is no longer in service. With my sensible head on, I know it’s more likely that it has fired the person managing its Twitter… but if a company is making cut backs, do I want to order from it either? Will I get a lesser quality product or service in return? Poorly managed social media can send a range of mixed messages to its audience and that’s why it has to be all or nothing when it comes to using it as a communications tool. Updates need to be posted regularly and interactions dealt with timely responses. Plus, with more and more messages being sent directly on social media sites, who knows, there might have just been a lucrative proposition that you missed out on because you sacked the person that manages your Twitter…
Social media is an increasingly useful tool for interacting with customers and building online relationships with service users. Why would anybody waste precious time and hard-earned money waiting on hold after dialling a premium rate line when it’s possible to send a quick tweet to a company Twitter account and have a response within a few hours? You can go about your day forgetting about your question or problem until you get notified that you have a response from the customer service team. However, again, it’s not a great idea to have a social media account and ignore tweets and messages from customers. If you’re going to have publicly accessible domain where consumers can share information not only with you, but about you, why wouldn’t you want to take the opportunity to respond?
My favourite way to use social media is to view other people’s pictures. I like to see what others are doing by looking at the images they share. A picture within a tweet or update is going to attract more attention of ‘speed scrollers’ browsing through their timelines, and I especially like searching through boards of ‘pins’ to see what’s popular on Pinterest. If you have great images of your product or service, why not show them off via social media?
There are massive positives to having well-managed social media output to your name and your brand.
- Increase your digital reach across multiple social platforms.
- Effective channels for driving traffic back to your company website.
- Easy-to-use devices for gaining feedback from customers.
- Gives a more personable voice to your brand and offers direct conversation.
- Create a buzz about your product or service – social media is fast becoming the new ‘word of mouth’.
Social media is a powerful platform that is only going to grow. Different trends for favoured sites are inevitably going to change over time. The key to using social media as a communications tool is to know where your target audience is and to log on there too.
By Joanne Howe PR Officer