Social Media: Strictly for Socializing, Powerful Business Tool or Both?

This article was written for and shared in the August 2015 River Valley Woman Magazine.

Are you one of the 936 million daily active users on Facebook? Maybe you “Pin” on Pinterest as one of the 80 percent of users that are female? If you’re using social media networks like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or LinkedIn, you’re probably like me, using the social networks to connect with family and friends online.

Social Media LikebookSocial media has become the greatest, fastest and most popular way to communicate and share our experiences, achievements and essentially what’s happening in our lives in real time. For me personally social media has become more than just a place to share my thoughts, life’s milestones and adventures, it truly is a timeline of memories I often look back on. My four-year-old daughter loves to look at photos I’ve shared on Instagram over the years and “remember” all of the fun things we’ve done in her lifetime including living at our previous home, vacations, visiting family and spending time with friends. One of my favorite takeaways from Facebook is the printed Social Book I create online, which is a soft cover book of all of my Facebook posts and photos from the past year. I call it our “Baby Book 2.0” and treasure the memories I’m so thankful I shared.

Most of us are also using social networks to stay connected with family and friends through conversations, viewing photos and watching videos of their life events as well. Did you know the average time spent on Facebook per user is 20 plus minutes per day? Not only do we connect with friends and family on a personal level, but many people look to their social networks for recommendations on everything from travel destinations to the best laundry detergent for tough grass stains.

Because of this new modern day word of mouth world that we live in, many brands are using social media to connect with you as well. You’re likely following and engaging with many companies and organizations yourself through all different social channels. If you’re a business owner, marketer, or if you are in charge of finding new customers at your work place, using social media can be a great marketing tool to promote your brand and build a community online. What’s even better is that small businesses to mommy bloggers get to use the same social networks as some of the largest companies in the world.

Of course there may be some apprehension to using social media to promote your brand, and for many reasons. Social media has given the consumer a voice and the thought of this can be overwhelming. But don’t let the fear of could what could happen hinder the benefits of what social media can provide to your business. Social media is also an “always connected” environment and keeping up with your network can take time and effort. But never before has there been a way to stay in direct, one-on-one, connection with your customers and potential new customers! If you can find a way to resonate with your audience, the potential for your products or services to go viral is great. Just think of what could happen if all of your friends, and their friends, and friends of their friends, shared your product with each other!

How can you make an impact on social media as a business? Start with a plan!

1. Find your target audience

Let’s say your target audience is women. Think about the women actually using your product and determine ways to reach more women like them in your social media campaigns. To find the right audience, you need to know where those women spend their time online. Do some research to figure out which social networks she spends her time connecting on. Facebook is the largest social network with the most active daily users. Pinterest demographics include 90% of pins being done by women. Are you targeting women in business? Then LinkedIn is a network you have to consider. Have you heard of Instagram, Snapchat or Periscope? If you are targeting Millennials you’ll want to get to know and consider these social networks. Don’t forget about whom your current customers are and where you can find them online. Not sure? Ask them! This will help you determine which social networks to focus on.

2. Build Relationships

According to a survey by Women’s Marketing Inc., four out of ten women use social media for the benefit of connecting with family and friends. However 37 percent of women think the primary benefit of social media is being alerted to coupons, deals and promotions by being connected with brands. How you can make a personal connection with women in correlation to your brand or product? Get creative!

If your brand is about women, make them feel like it. Create an experience that keeps you top of mind with your followers through your social media messages. Get your audience talking about your product and their experiences on social networks and make their needs and worries your priority.

Another great way to build relationships is by letting your audience get to know you, your culture and who you are (funny, quirky or serious even). Wouldn’t you agree that if you feel like you know and trust someone, you’re more likely to buy from and recommend them to others?

Along with being creative, personalization is also key to successfully building relationships online. Speak directly to the woman you want to reach and be helpful, useful and make your message about them. They will look to you when it is time to buy.

3. Turn Followers Into Evangelists

Finally, women are passionate, caring and love to help others by nature. It is certainly not uncommon to find your newsfeed full of tips, suggestions and ideas shared by women to help one another. If you prove your product has value and is important in their lives, you can create a community of more than just followers on social media. Build relationships with women online, then encourage them to use their voice to share their opinions and recommendations about your product to their friends.

Let these steps be a guide and inspiration! Allow your creativity to flow through social media channels. Branch out and start connecting with your target audience. Social media is here to stay, embrace it!

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