Social media has taken the internet by storm and it turned the usage patterns of internet marketers and companies upside down. Just as business has changed, so have the buying habits of the consumers. People are associating themselves with certain brands, all the while their consumption patterns show a high degree of association with society.
But the buying model is not the same for all groups of customers; different customers have different buying patterns, and every customer is unique. Consumers take lots of factors and information into consideration before buying. As a result, social media has become a source of opportunity for companies who keep customers engaged and fulfill their needs through their brands. At the same time, companies that follow obsolete sales push strategies are facing major challenges for their online business.
In fact, leveraging the internet and social media has become quintessential. Selling any consumer product only via a sales force seems ridiculous. So much so that selling via sales people alone has become an outdated and ineffective sales and marketing strategy if not supported by mobile applications, incorporating customer feedback, and personalizing messages for consumers.
Here are the four best marketing strategies entrepreneurs need to incorporate when marketing their brands using social media and if they want to compete in the modern era of business.
1. Be Engaging
Staying engaged and understanding the customer is the name of the game here. Selling your products through social media requires companies to post the latest content related to their brands and products featuring quality, benefits, performance, and durability of the product. Customers naturally flock to websites that have something new to offer for them on a daily basis. Talk about promotions, customer feedback, and usefulness of your products. Show your products in all its beauty and don’t underestimate the power of a strong visual.
2. Be Human
Sending automated messages to sell your products no longer works. It’s that simple. If you want to sell your product, you need to interact with your customers more productively. Introduce dedicated customer support, online chat and engage your customers via social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Give your customers a reason to visit you on these pages. Every time I walk by a store or billboard that asks me to "like" a company or their products on Facebook, I’m confused; why should I? What’s in it for me? Tell me that you understand me and I will buy your product.
3. Be Easy
Are you easy to do business with? Or will I pull my hair out when I try to find and buy your product online? Set up your website with super-simple search facilities to let customers quickly find the desired products on your website. Make it easy for customers to find the products you want them to buy! Let them find products by price, color, style, model, or whatever other filters make sense. And make the filters easy to modify. What’s your checkout process like? Do I have to jump through hoops to check out, enter my credit card, and get my stuff shipped? I want to buy from you—so be easy to do business with!
4. Be Supportive
Who said you can’t make money and do good at the same time? If you have a good product, a great way to engage with your customers can be to stand for something. Show what matters to you. Because what matters to you will likely matter to your customers. If you live your principles, you add credibility to your brand. Support a social or environmental cause. Motivate customers to help the poor or protect the environment with their contribution and support. Getting into an ongoing partnership with a charitable organization or consistently representing a cause allows you to be more than just a product. You give your product meaning and you give your company and your customers an opportunity to drive real change. And guess what—it’s also good for your business: 90 percent of Americans are more likely to trust brands that back social causes.
But if you don’t mean it, don’t do it! Never. If your association to a cause is not genuine and just a gimmick that you want to exploit, consumers will immediately know it and they’ll tell you what they think of you. It won’t be pretty.
Successful examples include The Body Shop, which stands for environmental protection, animal rights, and community trade. For example, in 1985, the company sponsored posters for Greenpeace and later presented a petition with 4,000,000 signatures against animal testing to the European Union. TOMS Shoes is built on the premise that for every pair of shoes sold, one pair is being donated to a child in need. Finally, Starbucks sells products such as Ethos Water, which brings clean water to the more than 1 billion people who do not have access. To date, Ethos Water has committed to grants totaling more than $6.2 million.
Customers understand that companies support different causes to help drive business and their brands but they also see that the charitable organization ultimately benefits. Supporting social causes is a widespread phenomenon and widely accepted.
No matter which of the four tactics you implement or if you select a combination of them, expand your customer base daily through interaction, feedback, product discussions, brand reviews, and social media discussions. Engage with your customers and help them understand why you’re in business and what exactly you do to make their lives better, easier, or more successful. At the end of the day, any of these marketing approaches will increase sales, reduce marketing costs, and will get you more ways to build a prospering business.