We can better understand the importance of a social media strategy if we compare two competing stalls in a marketplace. This market is bustling with people looking to buy, comparing products, prices, and giving feedback to one another.
Customers face many choices in a market. They happen to walk past a stall similar to yours that’s well-lit, surrounded by a consistent buzz of people and activity, with purposeful signage and arrangement of products. They’re giving away generously sized free samples and providing passers-by with valuable information, and there’s little pressure to buy. The staff clearly enjoy what they do by the way they interact with not only customers but also each other. The stallholders are chatting with customers about engaging, current topics, and many linger around a little longer for the chat. The stall seems instantly trustworthy and inviting, with no sense of an attempt at a ‘hard sell’.
Then there’s the other stall. It’s positioned a few spots down, is lit dimly and has a basic, yet functional layout. The products are excellent, and there are regulars who go in out of habit, but it isn’t attracting many new customers. Lots of the current customers look over at the first stall, checking out the bigger buzz, and there’s the awkwardness generated from a desperation by staff to make new sales.
The contrast is clear with these two stalls at the marketplace.
Now let’s compare them to two businesses; one with a powerful social media presence, and one without. While the dimly-lit stall is situated in the same busy marketplace with potential buyers front and centre, they just aren’t as interested. Without improving the stall itself, the only way the stall will win over customers is by slashing the price, an unsustainable plan.
What’s missing is a sense of trust. The second brand is not showing extra value or providing a space that is relatable to the market goers. There is little sense of opportunity and community created for the buyer. Sure, there’s the opportunity for a transactional, black-and-white purchase, but what’s missing is that exciting sense of a customer wanting to be part of an interaction, a conversation and a brand.
Nowadays, people are glued to their smart devices. Up to 93% of people who own a smartphone use it to connect to social networks. All of these people are in a virtual marketplace, so it’s important to figure out how your business is appearing to them. Is your company part of the current conversation and does it appear as a trustworthy, relatable and inviting presence? If a customer is complaining about your business, are they able to complain directly to you (allowing you to effectively deal with it), or are they left to complain to their own friends, or even your competitors?
A social media strategy gives your business authenticity.
When you’re in the market, you know what’s happening; you know what people are talking about, how they’re talking about it, and when they’re talking about it. You’re there to see it first-hand, and can even be a part of the conversation, rather than sitting alone and guessing. A significant presence on social networks generated from a well-implemented strategy shows your customers that you want to connect and that you care – especially more than your competitors who aren’t bothering at all.
A shining example is The Beach People. They position themselves as ‘a community of like minded sea lovers’, utilising high quality imagery that touches on their values of being fun & adventure to connect with their fans, allowing them to develop a large, loyal following who celebrate their brand message.