Since the early days of the 21st century, the use of social media for business has grown exceedingly, becoming an integral aspect of an overall marketing strategy. This is due to a growing awareness that cultivating relationships with potential customers is key to growth in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Using methods of social media marketing helps form relationships with potential consumers in ways previously unavailable to the business community.
Social Media Inclusion in Marketing Plans
Research confirms the necessity of incorporating social media into comprehensive marketing strategies. According to Jacques Bughlin’s July 2015 article, Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence, “Consumers who use search engines to gain some initial knowledge of a product are also more likely to tune in to social media before a purchase.” *
Although research shows that businesses that invest in SEO (search engine optimization) can increase conversions by incorporating social media in their marketing plans, this approach can be maximized further by also including email marketing, SEM (Search Engine Marketing), and Reputation Management into their marketing plan. Why? Because each of these channels cross-connect.
Social Media Activities that Influence Digital Shopping Behavior
As we have seen, consumers make connections with companies to obtain or deepen their knowledge of products prior to making a purchase. But, how are potential customers using social media to reach their decisions to buy or not? A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey conducted in September 2015**
revealed the social media activities that influence digital shopping behavior. The report, based on a worldwide sampling of 22,618 digital buyers aged eighteen and above, shows that:
– Read reviews, comments and feedback
– Receiving promotional offerings
– View Ads
– Stay on top of current fashion and product trends
– Write reviews, comments and feedback
– Associate with particular brands or retailers
– Purchase products directly through a social media channel
Businesses that understand and master the digital domain can use each type of contact in their social media marketing to guide consumers along the way, whether they arrive to the business’s website from an ad, a blog post, a review, a tweet, an image, etc. Each marketing channel can be an extension of the business through which the consumer gains knowledge, forms opinions, and develops impressions that will lead to making decisions.
Reputation Management through Social Engagement
An advantage of using social media is the ability to better track and respond to the information that is circulated on the internet. When a customer feels strong enough to leave a review or comment regarding a business, they will most likely go to that business’s website. Businesses who do not utilize social media in their marketing plan may not know the feedback they receive. However, customers pay close attention to such information and will use it to determine future actions.
For small businesses, the opportunity for interaction and for conversions is great due to their ability to develop closer, more intimate relationships with their customers than larger businesses. Customers who frequent smaller, local businesses tend to spread the word online to friends, co-workers, and within community groups.
Small businesses can use social media to:
• Quickly release information about a service or a product going on sale
• Post and discuss pictures of their products
• Respond to customer service inquiries
• Build e-mail lists for the purpose of alerting customers of specials, ads, community events or causes, contests or even personal announcements, such as births or weddings
When a small business uses social media to interact with their customers, they make deep inroads into the community in which they serve. They get a better understanding of their customers’ wants, needs, and future desires which, when acted upon, may lead to greater success in the marketplace.
Thinking of incorporating social media into your marketing strategy? Cascade e-Commerce Solutions supports small business with their SEO, SEM, Social Media, and Reputation Management needs.
Contact us today at 206-244-9092 or [email protected]
(February 2016 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report, “They Say They Want a Revolution: Total Retail 2016.