How Social Media Has Changed the Way Businesses Do Business

 In this blog post DTI MD or as we like to call her, Mrs. Digital – aka Joanne Sweeney-Burke tells us why social media has changed the way businesses do business.

Connect with Joanne on LinkedIn

Social Media is not a fad. It is a fundamental way in which we communicate today. For me it’s not about IF you do social media, but HOW WELL you do it. I’ve been studying and practicing social media since 2007. Now social media is part of a bigger discipline called digital marketing that includes web marketing, email and mobile marketing, display advertising, pay per click, search engine optimisation, search engine marketing, content marketing and digital design.

Social media offers a number of tangible benefits to any business or organisation. The tools at their disposal are endless. It allows them to:

  • Find new Customers Leads or Referrals
  • Create Better Customer Service
  • Drive Brand Profile & Differentiates you from your Competition
  • Manage Your Online Reputation
  • Increases Trust in your Business or Brand
  • Obtain real Customer Insights (age, gender, location, interests)
  • Promote your Content
  • Keeps Customers Engaged
  • Drive Website Traffic
  • Targeted Advertising
  • Review the Competition
  • Find Strategic Partners

How to Sell Online

Just as in real life there is a process involved in selling. You wouldn’t just walk up to somebody on the street and start selling him or her radio ads or pizza? Similarly, the same goes for social media. You have to build up your brand profile, you have to build trust, differentiate yourself from the competition, engage and excite, be relevant, have conversations, offer customer service and then you have sales leads. After that you measure how many leads it takes to convert to a sale. And so the wheel of ‘socialnomics’ is turning!

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Blogs and Pinterest are the most popular social media platforms in Ireland. However three stand out from the crowd. Facebook has 2.2 million users. One third of the population uses Facebook daily. Twitter has 410,000 monthly users. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world after Google. And Google own YouTube.

Age Profile:  62% of adults aged 15+ are on Facebook in Ireland. 19% of Ireland’s 2.2 million Facebook Users are aged 35-44. Irish people send more than a million Tweets a day and we are ranked 10th highest users of Twitter in the world per capita. 1 in 10 people tweet daily. The largest group of social media users in Ireland are aged 25-34. 3% of Irish social media users are aged over 65.

Social Media Marketing

Businesses and organisations use social media as a valued marketing tool and very many SME’s and not-for-profits use it in the absence of a marketing budget. So the first thing I always say in my training workshops is: “Let’s appreciate social media for what it is.” It is a method of digital communications using free platforms and reaching many more people than perhaps traditional media can (again in the absence of a spend / money).

Be Strategic!

If you want to be strategic about social media and use it to enhance your business or promote a message there are a few key steps:
Set Goals – social media goals should reflect your business goals
Understand who you are targeting – then understand what social media platforms they are using
Choose your social media channel/s – don’t set up all of them if you’re not going to commit to them.
Action Plan: Messaging, How Often to Post, Who is responsible, monitoring.
Message: have one clear message and deliver it well. But also include what’s called ‘a call to action’ what action do you want them to take after reading your post/tweet/watching your video?
Don’t push / don’t sell – pull/engage – Modern day consumers are actually pro-sumers – they are choosing what to watch, buy, read, download – and they don’t want to be sold too. So if your constant message is “Free, New product in, sale, buy now” Forget about it. You are not engaging. The key to social media success is engaging content.
This brings me on to what’s called Content Marketing: Even Google has changed its algorithm to reflect “The Social Conversation”.

In the early days of Google and Search Engine Optimisation you could build a technically good website and rank very highly on Google, Bing or Yahoo. But now Content Marketing – essentially really good digital story telling amounts to 75% of your Search Engine success with 25% going to the technical elements of a website.
Measurement: You have to understand customer insights – the analytics by which you measure your success. So on Facebook it’s Customer Insights, Website, Google Analytics


Making Money from Social Media
So how do you make money from social media. OK So you can have a Shopify App which allows you to sell on Facebook, you can buy Twitter Ads which brings you more relevant traffic to your tweets. But ultimately you must be driving your social media traffic to your website. I had an attendee at one of my social media workshops two weeks ago tell me she had 30,000 members in 20 different Facebook Groups. All based in the one county. Now this is impressive as I calculated (if she was correct) she had 20% of the population engaged in her various groups which all had a local angle. Now her frustration was she wasn’t making any money. And my answer was simple. Of course your not. Facebook does not allow you commercialise your following by just having them as an engaged audience. Facebook makes money from Facebook, You need to drive your following to your website – she didn’t have a website nor was she selling a product, she just successfully built up an audience based on relevant local content.
There is a common mistake that very many businesses and organisations make – they rely on social media to solve all their marketing problems and to use it as their sole marketing strategy. If you are serious about using social media to your advantage you need to do the following.
a) use the relevant social media site that your target audience is using
b) be skilled in using it – so up skill if you need to learn more
c) understand how you can help your customers (not sell to them)
d) build up a following (or a flock) – people that become champions of your brand
e) drive them to your website
f) get to understand how many hits it takes to convert a web user into a customer – for example I have one customer who converts one in every 100 web visitors to a sale. This is what you need to understand.
g) Engaging content – so now you understand how vital it is to have engaging content – because if people are engaged – which means they like, click, share or comment on your content – they are more likely to click to your website and become a customer.
h)Finally it’s a long term plan – you cannot start and stop. You have to be committed and you have to invest the necessary resources which are time, money (advertising), training and content creation.

Some Tips on Writing for the Social Web
State a benefit

Provoke a question
Offer useful information e.g. tips, advice, insights
Answer a question
Write for your readers
Reward the following
Give Exclusives
Ask for feedback

Handling Feedback on Social Media
Define the feedback – well thought out, rushed, fair commentary or emotional rant
Define where the comments are coming from – bad customer service, irate client, unhappy supplier etc.
If genuine and posted in a professional manner – respond immediately
If aggressive, emotional, negative, irrational – take it offline: “Thank you for your post/comment, we will look into this. PM / DM me your details and I will contact your directly”
If abuse continues – block or report
Remember your followers see this so mind your P’s & Q’s – stay en message
Don’t get personal
A strategy of silence is not recommended


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