Social media is not a fad. There are more than 500 million people on Facebook alone, according to Vice President of Business Development Tyler Tanaka of PostRelease, a company that specializes in content marketing to varying audiences on the Internet. Tanaka recently presented a SEMA webinar that provided social media tips for business.
To take some of the mystique out of the term "social media," Tanaka explained that companies just need to understand that social media is good marketing.
There are a ton of different social networking locations online, whether it's the original word-of-mouth through forums, such as AIM, Messenger, or through blogs and other small niche sites. Of course, there are the biggies, such as Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace, the latter of which is not as popular as it once was, but still significant. Then there are the consumer sharing sites, such as YouTube and Flickr.
"The sheer number of ways that you can communicate with your customers today is very powerful, and it goes from having a personal conversation with your prospective client and consumer, all of the way down to Twitter, which is much more top-level and general for information sharing," said Tanaka.
Tips for Consumer Interaction
"When interacting with people in social media, you need to make sure that you listen first," according to Tanaka. "Once you're done listening, listen some more. Understand the conversations that are going on between enthusiasts and consumers, and then speak out. Get a feel for where you're at, who's listening, who's following you."
After you're engaged in communication, Tanaka advises companies to make sure to focus on being humble, gracious and thankful that they are interacting with your company in that space.
"The 'like' and the 'follow' options in Facebook are becoming very key ingredients in how costumers will eventually spend their money on your brand," said Tanaka. "People are taking it personally, today, when they like a brand, and there is definitely a sense of entitlement that's going along with that."
After you're involved with a social networking site, make sure you stay dedicated. Don't jump into that space and then not do anything with the page you created. Tanaka suggests getting your employees and the people in your company involved; however, he says to do so with caution. While you want to make sure that you offer different perspectives from your company, it's very important to make sure that you don't let your employees have free reign and post what they want on a whim. Be aware what's going out and being posted.
Work on determining a tone and personality for your company. Every brand has its own way of communicating with its customers. Make sure you find that connection and communicate appropriately. "As it is with all forms of consumer communication, it's very important to know your audience and to try and know who you're speaking to ahead of time," explained Tanaka.
One of the most important things to remember is that if you make promises, make sure that you make good on them. Follow up, be on time and give exact details so that there are no miscommunications between the number of people that are following along and dedicated to your brand.
Social Commerce and Mobile Marketing
Joining Tanaka for the presentation was Hallie Janssen of Anvil Media, a search engine marketing agency. Janssen discussed social commerce and mobile marketing.
As defined by Janssen, with the use of Wikipedia, social commerce is a subset of electronic commerce that uses social media to assist in the online buying and selling of products and services. Janssen highlighted some of the examples of social commerce, such as customer ratings and reviews, user recommendations and referrals, social shopping tools, forums and communities, social media optimization and social advertising.
For mobile marketing, Janssen shared some staggering statistics regarding the smart phone market. "Mobile phones with Internet connectivity have been available for about a decade," she said, "and mobile Internet penetration is quickly approaching the number of U.S. households with televisions. The smart phone market share is expected to hit 60% by the end of this year."
Janssen also says that about 11% of consumers used their smart phones to make purchases during the 2010 holiday season, more than 30% used their phones to compare product details, look up prices or to find store locations. For the auto industry, Janssen says that mobile advertising is most effective in aiding awareness is brand favorability.
The information above was just part of the presentations provided by Tanaka and Janssen. To hear the entire webinar and all of the insight and tips provided—such as 2011 social media trends, proper use of hash tags, effective use of images, the impact and opportunities of social gaming, creating a mobile site and more—download the entire session, available for free to all SEMA members, by following this link.
To learn more about SEMA webinars and to access past presentations, visit www.sema.org/webinars.