The term Social Media encompasses Internet and mobile-based websites and tools that are based on user participation and user-generated content. Various sub categories exist such as Social Networking (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook), Blogging (e.g. Blogger), Social Bookmarking (e.g. Delicious) and Social News (e.g. Digg). The clear focus of social media is the sharing and discussing of information.
Social Media has taken the Internet world by storm in recent years and is definitely here to stay. Now more than ever, everyone can get his message across through the internet in a very easy way. Maltese users have not been left behind but have rapidly embraced these new technologies. According to Facebakers.com, the number of users on Facebook in Malta currently stands at 148,420. That gives a total penetration percentage of 36.63%, not bad at all in a country which has a 74.14% Internet penetration rate. The burgeoning amount of ads being put up by Maltese businesses on Facebook shows that they have realised the potential of this social media platform and are reaping good dividends from their ad spend. While usage data is not always readily available for other social media platforms, a quick look around on most of them will indicate a healthy usage level by the Maltese population. The people are there, but are the businesses also present? As a business owner, why should you also be active on social media and how?
Connecting with Your Customers
The nature of social media makes it an excellent tool for building connections with your customers and potential clients. Having a Facebook page or group will enable you to instantly notify people about any upcoming events you are organising, or new product/service launches. YouTube can also be used to post customer testimonials or reviews of your products. You can also obtain important feedback, for example if you are an event organiser you will most probably have a few people commenting back after an event with what they liked/disliked and thus enable you to immediately enter into a conversation with them. As a direct consequence of this you will also be learning how to improve your offering in the future. One must also not underestimate the fact that humans feel more comfortable in engaging with people they know then complete strangers. By giving an insight into your business, for example by posting images of your staff and offices on Flickr, you are bound to make users instantly feel a relationship, feeling they ‘know you better’, and thus trust you more.
Good stuff spreads like wildfire through the social media sphere, and you can use this to your advantage when marketing your business. Creating an interesting or funny viral video and sharing it on sites like YouTube or Vimeo, for example, might lead to many users sharing it with their friends and earn you more brand awareness. It can also give a human face to your business, and help garner users’ affections.
Find Great Talent
Social Media can also be an incredibly useful tool in your next recruitment drive. Sometimes finding the right person to fill a vacancy in the traditional way can be a long and expensive process. However by posting notifications of vacancies on social media sites, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, you can quickly and cheaply attract interested people, while also being able to quickly see what they are all about if they are also promoting themselves and their work through social media.
Establish Yourself as an Expert in Your Field
Having your own blog and sharing your knowledge through useful tips and observations through the blog and posts on websites like Facebook and Twitter will slowly but surely establish you as an expert in your field. People will thus have more confidence in you and be more willing to buy your products or services.
Brand Awareness and Image
Being well-represented on social media can definitely help you in promoting your brand, but can also aid in portraying you and your business as forward-looking, and technology friendly, which is surely the way to go when trying to create a positive image in the minds of your customers.
Social Media is excellent for scouting of networking opportunities. Something like Facebook’s Events sections lets you browse through and single out important events related to your line of business, be it a conference, or a more social event where you know key players in your field will be present. Through such events you can network with other entrepreneurs and even meet potential clients.
Traditional marketing tactics such as print, radio, TV advertising and public relations are still very important, but social media has now become part of the everyday marketing activities and has been proven to give a huge Return on Investment. When used properly, social media can be a great tool to help your business reach untapped, potential customers and stay connected to current ones.
This article was published in July 2010 on the Technology Sunday, a technology supplement of the Times of Malta on Sunday.