There’s a pretty good chance your business has at least one social media page. But are you using social media simply as an online billboard, or is there more you could be doing to stand out and engage your audience and build brand awareness?
Nearly two-thirds (71%) of SMBs use social media to market themselves, and more than half (52%) post on a daily basis. While staying active on social media is important, regular posting is not the same thing as maintaining a strong social media presence. When used as part of a strategic content marketing framework, social media can be one of your best tools to connect with customers, build brand awareness, and drive revenue.
Why being “in the moment” is crucial for increasing brand awareness and revenue
In the age of mobile, customers have completely transformed when, where, and how they decide to purchase. This is basically the theory behind the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) concept that Google first introduced ten years ago. ZMOT essentially describes the way customers conduct online research prior to making a purchase. For instance, a consumer looking for a new blender may search for different models, read product reviews, compare prices, find local stores that carry the item, etc.
Each one of these research steps is a moment of opportunity you don’t want to miss. If you can target these prospective customers at the right moment with the right content and message, you stand a much greater chance of connecting them to your brand and driving future purchases.
When ZMOT was first introduced in 2011, customers frequently did most of this research online, perhaps by opening a laptop and logging in. Now, much of this research happens on all kinds of mobile devices, in any location, and across various online and mobile destinations including social media. Today’s instant access to information empowers customers more than ever before, and will continue to do so. And as consumer behavior continues to evolve, so must the ways marketers and brands engage to captivate those target audiences.
In today’s always-connected, social-media-saturated world, how do you connect with customers?
It all comes down to providing timely, engaging, and consistent social media content that your customers are searching for on any device and at any given time. The key here is consistency, because it’s nearly impossible to have a strong social media presence without it. If you don’t consistently post informative and relevant content on your social media channels, your company risks looking obsolete, out of touch, and maybe even out of business if you haven’t posted in a while.
Download our social media calendar template and get an easier and more consistent way to schedule your social media posts and increase brand awareness!
For instance, think of the last time you searched for a local business, such as a cafe or hair stylist, only to see that their Facebook page hasn’t been updated in over a year. Chances are, you got the impression that they were no longer in business, or at least not very likely to respond to inquiries. More importantly, how likely were you to try to contact this business in other ways, such as through email or a phone call?
The fact is, customers expect to engage with companies through social media. Over 91% of social media users keep up with their favorite brands or businesses primarily through their preferred social media platforms, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Reddit, YouTube, or WhatsApp. In addition, well over half (63%) of consumers expect to access customer service through those same platforms.
Social media is a major source of purchasing information
How people shop today is radically different from a couple of decades ago. Purchasing decisions no longer follow a linear path from seeing an ad to joining the checkout line. Instead, potential customers often follow a haphazard pattern that can involve numerous Google searches, YouTube reviews, Instagram influencer testimonials, and personal recommendations from close friends and family.
As a result, social media provides a major source of decision-making information. This is why optimizing your social pages (as well as your blog and website) with timely and relevant high quality content is essential to ranking higher in Google search engine results pages (SERPs). As this Google report found, “Brands that provide the right mobile-relevant answers and that measure the impact stand to gain a competitive advantage. More importantly, they can help consumers when they need it most.”
Small businesses can use social media channels for brand awareness campaigns by sharing easy-to-create content including infographics, short videos, ads, and links to more detailed, high-quality content that answers customers questions or addresses trending topics. Social marketers also often use hashtags to flag posts so they appear in common queries on social media to boost brand awareness.
Are you providing mobile-relevant answers through your social media pages?
Consider how this familiar scenario can make or break a potential customer’s decision to purchase from you:
Let’s take the example of a small coffee kiosk. The shop decided to scale back its service and hours significantly during the pandemic, but never updated its Google business profile with the reduced hours. Although the company’s website and Facebook page are still live, they haven’t been updated in a year. And, even though the shop has started to reopen with expanded hours, the owner didn’t update the Facebook page and hasn’t responded to the few inquiries over Messenger. Instead, the owner has chosen to rely on foot traffic, word of mouth, and the “Open” sign in the window to gain customers, which has not been successful.
Although this may seem like an extreme example, it’s surprising how many small businesses fail to use social media for even basic marketing. Simple, quick tasks such as updating social media pages and maintaining a Google My Business account can help SMBs avoid breaking the purchasing path — the route a potential customer takes from initial search or recommendation to actual purchase. Once a customer encounters a roadblock on the purchasing path, such as a defunct social media page or outdated Google profile, that potential customer will almost certainly move on to another business.
Social media helps you manage public brand perception
Let’s face it: Customers often use social media to vent about bad customer experiences. Whether it’s on your Instagram or Facebook page, or privately in a messaging app, you have to be able to respond quickly and professionally. (The same is true of positive feedback. If a customer takes the time to compliment your product and service, let them know ASAP how much you appreciate them!). This can also serve as a great opportunity to ask for a referral.
In the case of a negative public review, having an active social media presence gives you the opportunity to respond instantly. Not only does this enable you to potentially resolve that customer’s problem, other customers will see that you actively address customer issues. This perception has two potential benefits:
- Customers appreciate your responsiveness and willingness to make things right. Every company gets things wrong sometimes, but fixing mistakes can go a long way toward repairing a bad experience and maintaining the customer relationship.
- Avoid a “pileup” of negative reviews. By not publicly responding to negative reviews, other customers may be encouraged to leave comments about their own bad experiences. If negative comments go unaddressed on your social media pages or testimonial sites like Yelp, you may wind up with a much larger marketing crisis that will be harder to control in the long run. It’s important that your social media strategy includes timely engagement with your target audience.
How to create a social media marketing strategy that builds positive brand awareness
Of course, social media marketing is a big topic that goes well beyond this blog. That’s why we created a guide to help you get started with some of the basics of social media marketing. Whether you’re just getting started or want to improve your current social media marketing performance, download our Small Business Guide to Social Media Marketing now!
If you’re ready to take the next step on your marketing journey, discover how Act! can help you build and retain loyal customer relationships — try it free for 14 days!