Social media experts discuss the strength of this influential tool and how and why distributors should want to sharpen their social media skills.
In today’s highly-connected, tech-savvy society, social media can be one of the most important and influential tools in a company’s marketing and sales arsenal. But if you’re still not fully convinced of its power and reach, here’s some evidence that might change your mind:
- According to a 2019 Emarsys study, 3.5 billion people around the globe – nearly half of the world’s population – are daily active social media users
- 90% of Millennials (ages 24-39), 78% of Generation Xers (ages 40-54), and 48% of Baby Boomers (ages 55-75) are active on social media
- According to Statista, an estimated 90% of U.S. businesses use social media for marketing purposes
- According to a 2019 Buffer study, nearly 75% of firms who use social media marketing believe that it’s been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their business
- A 2018 Global Web Index study revealed that 54% of social media browsers use social media to research products
Some businesses even operate primarily through social media, such as “Tools in Action” (www.toolsinaction.com and their YouTube channel), a provider of power tool reviews for professionals and homeowners that currently has nearly 135,000 followers.
A Critical Tool
Without a doubt, “social media remains one of the most effective ways of communicating with your target audience, particularly when your employees and customers are empowered to use it on behalf of your brand,” confirmed social media expert Tracy Samantha Schmidt, Founder of Chicago-based Socially Authentic. “That’s because people like to do business with and learn from people they trust, a trend that’s only going to increase as people feel increasingly bombarded by brand messaging.”
Fellow social media expert Sarah McNabb, Chief Marketing Officer at Chicago-based Gate 39 Media, agreed that social media has become an indispensable tool.
“For all marketers, it’s critical to be where the conversations are taking place – and they’re increasingly taking place on social media with no signs of slowing,” McNabb said. “While it’s just one spoke in the marketing wheel, social media MUST be part of an overall marketing strategy and, more importantly, must involve documented and purposeful goals tied to content that speaks to all personas and generations, from baby boomers to millennials.”
McNabb confirmed that social media has opened new doors for hyper-targeted advertising, immediacy in reputation management, and the ability for brands to truly engage with customers, adopters, influencers, stakeholders, and prospects. “In addition,” she said, “it’s also a way for marketers to glean intelligence to see what resonates with their audiences and to listen to what their audiences want and need.”
Top Tips for Savvy Social Media
Following, Schmidt and McNabb offer advice to help distributors make the most effective use of social media opportunities:
- Curate Your Content – According to Schmidt, sales teams and brand ambassadors should be equipped with every resource possible to do a good job on social media, a goal which may involve training on the latest social media trends and best practices as well as guidance on superior content that they can easily post on their own social profiles. “You want to make it as easy as possible for them to regularly share content that their network wants to receive,” said Schmidt, who cautions against posting only sales-related material. “Instead, empower team members to act as ‘curators,’ sharing a range of content that would be interesting and helpful to your target audience,” she said.
- Emphasize Stories – “Engaging social media influencers who can ignite discussions around the benefits that electrical products offer is incredibly powerful,” McNabb confirmed. “But while it’s one thing to have a social media influencer talk about your product, people remember stories over statistics and it’s the human story connected to the product that will be heard. For example, after the earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, all kinds of humanitarian services came in to help set up camps for the community members who had lost their homes. Instead of wanting more shipments of clothing or bottles of water, someone finally just stopped and actually asked the Haitian people, ‘what is it that YOU need?’ It turned out that they wanted safer conditions in the camps, as several women had been assaulted.” In response, McNabb said, “electric lights were put up throughout the camp to illuminate the grounds at all times, which greatly decreased criminal activity and violence.” According to McNabb, products can sell themselves if they’re presented within the context of an authentic story that resonates with the audience.
- Recognize the Current Reach….and Investment – “If your organic/unpaid reach is less than 5% on social media, you’re not alone,” Schmidt said. “Most brands are currently seeing organic reach under 5%, which is because the social networks want brands to ‘pay to play’ on their platforms.” She acknowledged that it can be frustrating for companies to spend extensive time and energy building up their audience on Facebook or LinkedIn and then not be able to reach them organically, but noted that these rules apply to everyone. “Your option is to set aside a budget for social advertising or create a different kind of social media strategy, one that leverages your brand ambassadors and empowers them to communicate on your behalf,” she said. “I always recommend the latter because it’s an investment that pays off in so many different ways, both online and off.”
- Focus on the Human and/or Business Benefit First – “Electrical products are in everyone’s lives — from voice assistants and thermostats that can be controlled by apps to lighting, security cameras, carbon monoxide detectors, and more,” McNabb said. “But regardless of what the product is, it isn’t the product that should be focused on through videos or ads on social media, but rather the protection, warmth, security, or other human benefit that the product ultimately delivers.”
Tagged with best practices, social media