Is there a digital elephant in your boardroom?

 
Wed 20 May 2015

There’s a good chance that the people who have most to gain from reading this will be the ones with the least inclination to do so.  Few of us readily embraces change, and for anyone over thirty the digitisation of the commercial world is likely to be uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, putting your hands over your ears and whistling loudly doesn’t alter the fact that none of us can keep on doing business in precisely the way we have done.  Okay, I’ve avoided mentioning the real subject of this article until now in the hope that you haven’t stopped reading, but it’s about social media.

You may not understand it, you may not see the point of it, you’re very likely to be completely turned off by it, but the fact is if you ignore it or neglect it, you are turning your back on possibly the most powerful instrument in developing your business.  Here, briefly, are just a few reasons why:

One in four of the people of the world is connected to social media; one and three-quarter billion people is a lot of potential customers who you will not reach if you are not digitally connected.  Social media is key for brand awareness.  If you want people to know you exist a successful social media campaign can get the attention of many times the numbers reached by traditional media.  It can be finely targeted or broadsided to the world.  Reviewing your products and services online is overtaking more traditional word-of-mouth recommendation.  Does anyone book a hotel anymore without looking at TripAdvisor?  If you’re not online to see and respond to what people are saying, at best, you’re missing a chance to bolster your reputation and at worst it could be suffering horribly right now.  Rather than ignoring it, constructive responses to positive or negative comments provide the opportunity to explain and to show that you are listening.

The digital world is essential for building relationships with customers and potential customers.  Good use of a site like LinkedIn can be as beneficial as going to networking meetings every day and can be as personal as a handshake.

Competent use of social media can allow the SME to compete on a more even footing with the big companies.  The proof of this is the amount of resource large businesses are putting into their own online presence.  They’re not spending money on it because it’s fashionable but because they know it is essential to future success.  If they’re doing it, can you afford not to?
You probably already pay for a website, but have you looked recently at how many or how few visitors it receives?  How many of those convert into sales?  A strong presence on social media can help move your site up the Google rankings so more people will see it. 

Trust is essential.  If your customers don’t trust you they won’t use you.  Being accessible, contactable, creates trust.  If people think they can get hold of you when they have a problem they are more likely to have confidence in your work.  Social media presence promotes transparency and accessibility leading to improved trust.  As does expert advice.  Who knows more about your particular market than you do?  Who is better positioned to offer help and support to people who could be sufficiently impressed by your words to become a customer?  Blogging, offering expert opinion on forums etc., are fantastic methods for positioning yourself as an expert.  People will look to you for answers and that means more business.

There are so many reasons you need to be active on social media but I will leave you with a couple of questions.  How much do you spend on traditional marketing and how much do you get back?  Have you ever wondered how much more cost effective it might be to build your presence on digital media- on platforms which are thousands of times more widely accessed by potential customers?  There is no shame in not knowing how to do this, there are professionals out there who will assist you in leveraging these mediums to achieve your business goals, and who will make the ROI undeniable.  When you take an advertisement in a magazine you trust the publishers to place it close to sufficiently interesting material that it will be read.  You don’t expect to write and design the magazine yourself.  The same can be true with social media.  You may not like it, may not understand it, may not want to have anything to do with it, so why not talk to someone who can do it for you?   

For expert advice, call Carolyn at Jardine Michelson Public Relations on 01908 933705.

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