Why you need a social media presence—it may not be what you’re thinking

By Emilie Downs, Owner, Imago Visual & CWCC Member

You may feel pressure to have a social presence for your business. You might worry about being out of touch by not having one. That pressure and worry can make it easy to overlook the reasons we want to be there in the first place. Are you looking for people to be your friends? Or be your customers? Why—and how—does having a social media presence work for businesses?

I recently purchased a Hoover on Amazon. And you’re dying to know why, because of social community sentiment.

I didn’t expect to buy my Hoover online but when I went to look at vacuums in the store, I had trouble deciding which one would be the best option for me. So, I went to Amazon and began reading reviews. As I researched the Eureka I expected to buy, I found a few shortcomings: other customers noted it was loud and heavy. I hadn’t realized those were important factors in my purchasing decision until then. After an hour, I found a Hoover that was light, quieter, had an auto-retractable cord and a special pet hair removal attachment. I placed my order with confidence and am very happy with my new vacuum. And I owe it to the reviews of people I don’t know, have never met, and have little interest in meeting.

Without ever going to Hoover.com, without speaking to a salesperson, without visiting Hoover’s Facebook page, I confidently bought my vacuum. I used the prevailing social community sentiment of the Hoover Windtunnel to influence my decision.

Here’s my point: Social media interactions with friends are not the same as interactions with businesses. This is a big perception gap.

In 2011, the IBM Institute for Business Value (http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/thoughtleadership/ibv-social-crm-whitepaper.html)
surveyed more than 1,000 consumers on why consumers interact with companies on social sites. Here are the top 3 reasons:

61% getting discounts or coupons
55% purchasing products and services
53% reading reviews and product rankings

By contrast, the executives interviewed believed customers were following their companies on social sites to “feel connected” or to “be a part of a community.”

Translation: I don’t need to “feel connected” to my Hoover community. In fact, I’d prefer my Facebook friends not know about my vacuum at all. However, social media still played a vital role in my purchasing decision.

Instead of debating whether your business should have a social media presence (the answer is “yes”, by the way); ask why a customer would choose to interact with your company in a social platform. Then formulate your social strategy around that answer.

Emilie Downs is the Owner of Imago Visual, a graphic design and marketing company based in Denver, Colorado. With over 14 years of experience, Emilie helps her clients create brands and supporting marketing that reflect their company’s true brilliance and gives them confidence. Her award-winning designs have been featured in HOW and Print Design Annuals. Call us if you need help determining your social media strategy. We’d love to help you strategize and put a plan into practice.

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