Social Media gives you a chance to tell your prospective customers about your brand, your products and what you do, but it also reveals what your customers are saying about you and your competitors.
The blogosphere in particular has grown rapidly and is a space for consumers to share information on the products and services that they've used or experienced. It gives everyone the chance to interact, share information and express their opinions. For businesses, this is a great way of finding out what you're doing well or not so well and areas that you can improve in.
Social Media give you the chance to expand your network of consumers and like-minded businesses. You can create long-lasting, meaningful relationships which will inevitably benefit your business.
You could be recommended to friends and family of those who you've interacted with on Social Media. This in turn will help you gain more customers and direct traffic to your website, to find out a bit more about what your brand is all about.
Creating a dialogue with your target audience is important. This type of conversation marketing means that useful information can be exchanged and trust will gradually build between both parties.
Many people will have access to your Tweets, blogs and Facebook page so you need to understand your customers, who they are, what makes them tick and who is influencing them to eventually make a purchase decision. This way you'll know how to immerse yourself and join the conversation to exchange valuable information, rather than just deliver a straight-forward message to them.
Amongst the online conversation you can spot the opinion leaders. Users are heavily influenced by these, they trust what they say and use their knowledge to inform themselves. These are the users to be aware of as they are very conversational about businesses, products and services and are not afraid to speak their mind.
Often people talk about the bad experiences they've had with businesses as a pre-warning to others so that they don't end up falling into the same trap in future. Consumers look out for one another so it's important for businesses to identify these conversations to manage their reputation.
Don't leave your followers in the dark. You may have gained many followers but that doesn't mean that you should stop blogging or Tweeting. Create a plan and keep to it, but make sure that the information you are giving out is consistent with your brand. A plan is handy so that you avoid sending out irrelevant, uninteresting information.
If you are passionate about your business and can communicate effectively, then Social Media is a channel you should be using. Let's face it; Social Media is going to be around for a long time, so now is a good time to update your business model and fully appreciate what the media is capable of doing. You'll be sure to gain new business as well as gain invaluable customer feedback.
Give your business a personality and talk to people. Find out what their wants and needs are from a business like yours and what they would like to see happen. Remember this two way dialogue is beneficial for you and your customer – they'll enjoy having some input and you'll know your target audience more thoroughly than you did before your business became social.
Jodie Ford - Guest Blogger
Final year advertising undergraduate who loves writing and PR, bit of a Social Media geek.
Also loves: Cute puppies, handbags and blogging about 'all things beautiful'