Unquestionably, social signals on the internet have gained dramatically in importance and are much more prevalent now than ever. Individuals are turning to micro communities to obtain their information. Networks such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others are drawing in users by the millions. People want to be a part of a community and these groups have incredible influence with its members. Daily news is garnered in these circles, buying decisions are made, and people are living their lives by being connected to their desired group(s).
But, what does all this have to do with your business? Quite simply, it means that you and your business must be connected and tuned in, as well. Buying Yellow Pages ads and billboard space in your neighbourhood does not always translate into sales anymore. In fact, millions of people are not only buying online, but they are using applications to find the best prices for items online. Your efforts may not be reaching potential buyers if you are not interacting with users in the digital age.
Furthermore, mobile applications are now directing the flow of traffic. If an individual is looking for somewhere to eat, the first stop is not the telephone book or a search engine. It is more likely a dining application right on the cell phone or tablet that provides local results. Not only will those results provide selections of restaurants, but it will also display votes and reviews from other users. Consequently, your potential customers are influenced by the immediate reactions of others.
Users are not always interested or swayed by fancy logos, cheerful company slogans, and music on the radio ad. In fact, they are not even seeing these methods of promotion. Your potential customers depend solely on what their peers have to say. They want to know how past customers critique the food, the service, and the establishment. And, they want to know now, so that they can make a quick decision.
Today, individuals expect companies to have more than just a presence. They want to interact with them and they want information quickly. Two examples of how this is used successfully by major corporations is through couponing and by providing interactive customer service. In the first case, fast food chains have found that if they distribute coupons through their social media pages, they can not only gain huge readerships, but they have also tapped into the group of people who want to buy their products and subsequently use their coupons. Customers quickly learn to watch the pages for the coupons.
In the second instance, internet service providers and television cable providers can announce outages and keep customers up to date in real time by displaying short snippets of information on Twitter and Facebook. Individuals have become accustomed to reading these pages and when something is wrong in life, they automatically go to these venues or destinations to get the information they require. In many instances, the immediate, online personal dealings are much more effective than a written FAQ or even a telephone support line.
Further, much of the news comes from these areas of the internet, too. Residents of countries with conflicts have not in the past been able to get their messages out to family, friends and the world at large. Now, people around the globe see what is happening in real time.
To ignore the power of social networking sites is a huge mistake when doing business online. These mediums are the wave of today's users and buyers. Newspaper and magazine outlets are dying and closing down because they cannot or will not compete with present behaviors. Often, companies that fail simply do not realize that the internet users are their customers. They hold to the mistaken belief that those people are not their target market.
And while you may understand your target market and believe that your customers or clients are not the type to use the new order, do not make any hasty judgments, as some of your customers will not only be found in these communities, but they will expect you to be there, too. Your business and services will be judged upon your willingness and your ability to be part of the social online crowd.
Granted, many companies, even conglomerates, are finding it difficult to operate in the new environment. We have heard the stories of large established brands pulling advertising money from social venues because they have not been able to corral the buying public. Yet, although this has happened, the fact remains that it is better to be part of the crowd, albeit learning and growing, than to be non-existent at all.
Closing our eyes to the social aspects of modern society and the web could have disastrous consequences for any business – online and offline.
If you're looking to increase your social presence online and gain more customers/leads for your business, contact our professional consultants for further advice.
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