We’ve come a long way from the days when a local merchant (a pub owner, let’s say) would pay the Town Crier to walk the streets ringing his bell and urging folk to visit the Bull and Thistle for a “tankard of ale most fine”. Now there are so many methods for getting your message out that the question isn’t whether you SHOULD market your business, but HOW you should do it.
In times past, the pub owner may easily have been able to stand on his front step offering that tankard of ale to passersby, but he didn’t have the same reach as the Town Crier. And while increased reach is an important goal for marketing your business it’s not the only consideration. Beyond reach, your messages should be created with distinct purposes in mind. These could be helping you in developing your brand, generating awareness, introducing new products or services, making offers, connecting with new customers or encouraging repeat business. All of these goals can be achieved with varying degrees of success using traditional media such as print, radio or television, but since social media is becoming the medium of choice for more of your audience, it would be foolish to ignore these new tools.
Social Media Users, Use it a LOT
More people are using social media platforms like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to keep in touch, to record and share their own experiences and interests, as well as to seek information and be entertained. The total number of Facebook users in Canada is over 18M or approximately 54% of Canada’s population. This number is equivalent to over 70% of the number of Canadian internet users. A recent Nielsen survey revealed that the average user spends 7 hours, 9 minutes on Facebook each month and visits the site nearly every day. This represents 18% of total time spent online by the average user. With so many people spending so much time on platforms like Facebook, it would seem then, that regular and consistent use of social media would improve your chances of effectively reaching your customers over any other medium.
The distinct advantage online tools such as social media have over traditional media is the potential for two-way communication. Your customers can leave comments and reviews, ask questions, or make referrals and recommendations about your product or service. In other words – and this is the social part – your customers can have a conversation with you in direct response to your online communications. This gives you better opportunities to develop stronger relationships with your clients. Stronger relationships lead to better awareness, greater trust and ultimately, a higher potential for sales.
Social Media is GOOD for SEO
There are additional reasons for using social media for your business as well. You can use it to demonstrate your expertise and offer proof that choosing your business is the best decision your customers can make. Plus, it can improve your online rankings. Links back to your website from social media posts now carry more weight with search engines such as Google than other types of links. This increases your likelihood of being found on the internet by people who are searching for the products or services you provide. Once again, if done properly and with regular frequency, this can lead to more sales.
While these tools are effective, they don’t all work the same, nor do they reach the same audiences, so jumping right in and starting a Facebook page or setting up a Twitter account might not be the wisest decision. Instead, you should start by developing a social media strategy to guide your efforts.
If all of this is beginning to sound like a lot of additional work that you don’t have the time or skills to execute properly, don’t despair. Just as the Town Crier was available to promote the busy pub owner, there are agencies capable of helping you with your marketing, either through traditional media or using online social tools. So whether you choose to investigate the various tools and develop a social media strategy for yourself or work with an agency to help you reach more customers, your business will benefit from using social media.