Why Social Media is an Important Extension of Your Website
Why do you have – or why do you want to have – a website for your business? The most likely reason is you want to have an online presence. You want to have a way for people to discover the products and services that you offer, and to reach out to your existing and potential customers. Having a website lets you tap on a piece of the market that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
But having a website does not necessarily guarantee a boost in your income. That is, unless people can find you among the millions of other sites in the Internet. For this happen, you need to take a proactive approach in digital marketing.
Marketing in the Connected World
In the traditional method of marketing, businesses heavily use advertising such as TV commercials, billboards, print ads, radio ads, and more. Unfortunately, these platforms are dominated by big companies with big budgets. But the landscape in marketing has drastically changed in the past years, thanks to the introduction of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, among many others.
People today no longer just passively watch as TV networks bombard us with 15- or 30-seconders while we hang on for the next segment of our favorite television programs. Rather, we actively watch videos, read articles, and tell our friends about the things that we like (or don’t like) whenever and wherever we want, all via the Internet.
Some individuals post photos of items that they bought or wish to buy, of restaurants they visited, of websites that they think are interesting, of services that they recommend, and more. Furthermore, many people comment and react, and they voice out their support (or disdain) for products, services, and companies. Their friends, in turn, read the post, they react, and they share the same information to their own circle of friends. This is word-of-mouth at high-speed.
Because of this change, businesses of any size now have an equal chance of getting noticed by potential customers provided the company realizes the power of social media, and takes steps in using the platform to its advantage.
Marketing Your Business Website through Social Networking
In a 2012 study by Forrester Consulting entitled Building Brands For The Connected World: A Social Business Blueprint by Facebook based on a commissioned study by Forrester Consulting”, the company compares consumer behavior in a world without social media (The Analog World) and a world with social media (The Connected World).
It says that to achieve consumer loyalty in The Analog World, there are five steps: awareness; consideration; purchase; preference; and loyalty. In The Connected World, on the other hand, there is a continuous cycle of the following processes:
This screenshot from the study “Building Brands for the Connected World” by Forrester Consulting shows the cycle of consumer behavior in a world with social media.
- Learning. Through shares and likes by their friends, people learn about products and services. They are also more likely to try them because of the trust factor. The study quotes several numbers from surveys done by other companies, namely:
- 80 percent of consumers – more likely to try something a friend recommends on a social networking site (survey by CMO Council and Lithium)
- 74 percent of consumers – are likely to recommend new products to their friends
- 50 percent of Facebook users – more likely to remember an ad if “their friends are featured in it” (Nielsen)
- Investigation. People use social networking sites to find out what others have to say about a product
- Purchase. The study also says that 51 percent of visitors are likely to buy an item after they “like” it on Facebook.
- Interaction. Consumers who buy products or services like to connect with the company via their social networking page. Moreover:
- 56 percent – expect exclusive deals
- 34 percent – want to know about new or other products and services
- 22 percent – want the company to hear them
- 72 percent – expect a response from the company for positive feedback
- 57 percent – expect a response from the company for negative feedback
How You Can Gain Customer Loyalty through Social Media
Since social media plays a vital role in your business, you need to take action.
- First, you need to develop your brand identity so you can have a unique and authentic voice when you use the social media platform.
- Second, engage your customers. Give them reasons to “like” you, and provide them with ways so they can follow you. Feed them with fresh content and updates that are relevant to them – content that are interesting enough for them to share with their friends. Let them tell their personal experiences with your products.
- Third, make sure that you don’t ignore their comments, whether they are positive or negative. They’d appreciate the attention and personal response. Not only will this make them feel special, thus encouraging loyalty, their points of view can also actually help you improve your brand.
Engaging Your Customers Through Social Media
This can take up a lot of your time, but you have to stay connected with your followers through regular posts. Tell them about new articles on your website, press releases in online publications, promos, upcoming and ongoing sale, new and current products, and other interesting information about your business.
If, let’s say, it’s lean season and there is really nothing to talk about, then post trivia or other “did-you-know” or “how-to” information related to your product or service. For example, if you have a shoe store, then you can say, “Did you know that the largest shoe measures…” or you can engage your readers by asking, “Where is the world’s largest pair of shoes displayed?” You can also give tips like “To clean suede shoes…” and so on. This will keep your followers engaged, and they will feel that you’re actively involved with them.
Connect Your Business, Your Website, and Social Media
As an example for how social media can direct traffic to your site, here’s a chart from statista that shows the percentage of traffic on U.S. news websites that come from social networking sites.
And of course, since social media plays a very important role in boosting your online presence, you need to have your Web developer integrate your website to the various social media networks. For instance, you have to make sure that the pages in your site have “like” and “follow” buttons. This way, your visitors can instantly share anything they like in and about your website.
You can also integrate elements on your website that show social count, such as how many followers you have or how many people like a certain page. The numbers often help in letting your visitors know that many people trust you and your product or service.
A Twitter feed can likewise be helpful in letting your visitors know what others are saying without them having to open Twitter.
In conclusion, there is great potential to boost your business by incorporating a well-maintained social media presence.