For many businesses, creating social media content is just the latest on their corporate ‘to do’ list, and while some would recognise its importance in building brand awareness, others are discovering how to turn these virtual communities into tangible sales.
Greg Moore, Managing Director of Huthwaite Asia-Pacific wrote recently that social media now provides a direct hotline straight to the consumers that by-passes the filters inherent in the media and advertising.
By focusing on the consumer, and using social media to better understand their lifestyles, preferences and tastes, companies can target their market offering to anticipate and then fill market needs without having to pay for surveys, focus groups or other forms of market testing.
So, how can we use social media to… for want of a better word… SELL, SELL, SELL!?
Research/Brand Platform: Social media channels enable sellers to understand the kind of user behaviours or opinions in a closer and quicker setting, and without the interference and inherent bias (not to mention cost) of third party input. With the advent of social media, a company can just go to Facebook or online blogs to read what consumers are saying about their products and services or observe the people coming to their websites as well as using the search engine optimisation tool to deduce the familiarity of their brand name.
Prospecting: Social media is useful for a prospecting in the marketplace to learn about the latest news and developments of your prospects businesses. This can then be used to channel your messages. For instance, if the individual prospect blogs, or posts on LinkedIn, then you can learn about what is important to them and what is likely to strike a chord when you approach them.
Building Relationships: Social media channels enable buyers to make their grievances known and sellers can learn more about their buyers’ problems and issues with the products and services and address them. This can enhance buyer confidence, help to build the relationship between the buyer and the seller, enable the seller to easily identify the needs of the target consumer and ultimately cater for these needs.
Achieving Brand Consistency: Consistency in branding and messaging is a necessary promotion any social media strategy. By continuously reaching out to buyers online and leveraging on the relationship, sellers can communicate with their customers on social media platforms and build relationships with their clients, consumers and prospects; a level of engagement that was previously unavailable.
So what’s the learning here? Social media provides your business with the opportunity to put your customer front and centre in your thinking, to study them, learn their behaviour, tastes and preferences, and use that market intel not just to market your products more effectively, but to actually develop your goods and services to fit their needs, and use the same medium to then sell to them. Genius!
How does social media feature in your market research and retail strategy? Write and let me know.
Author: Sarah Crothers
Sarah specialises in financial analysis, social media planning and implementing, copywriting, blog and newsletter writing and WordPress website management.