Posted by: Bret Simmons | April 14, 2010

What’s The ROI On Social Media For Your Brand?

A post by Lida Citroen, one of our conference presenters:

Ok, so you’re a successful small business – you have employees who like working for you, your product or service is good and customers return to purchase. You show a profit year after year, and you managed to navigate the recent turbulent economic waters without too much seasickness. In your mind, your brand – how your company is perceived in the market – is just fine, thank you.

So why should you care about social media? What place does your business have in the online space? Isn’t social media just a bunch of kids posting videos about skateboarding dogs?

Au contraire!  Social media is much more than entertaining videos, rants by political pundits and reviews of pop artists. Social media – and social networking – allows you to strengthen your company’s brand, engage with customers, and attract new customers to your business!

Social Media vs. Social Networking

Social media, by definition, describes the online space that’s populated by “user-generated content.” This means someone like you or I decide to write about something, start a blog or create a website and call ourselves an expert. There’s no vetting process.

Social networking, on the other hand, is where we engage and network with others, online. We might participate in chat rooms, forums, online dialogs, with people who share our interests, concerns, passions and issues.  The point is, we connect, we share and we inform others.

Use the online space to strengthen your brand

We expect your company website to be well-written and cleansed to present your best image. All the photographs are retouched and everyone looks their Sunday best. In social networking, however, we get to know you as a real person, the owner, manager or employee of the company. We might see pictures of your family on Facebook, learn about your career path on LinkedIn, or find out your favorite ice cream flavor on Twitter. These factoids make you more interesting to us as people… and your business begins to take on a personality.

For this reason, managing your online brand is critical.  For example, if you are in the medical profession, how you present yourself online can create trust and let me know you are compassionate and I can feel safe. Or, it can scare me away! I might not like to know that my dentist is an amateur tattoo artist on weekends.

Engage with customers

Businesses are often shocked to find out the number of customers who want to promote their loyalty to the brand through social networking. A business sets up a Fan page on Facebook and suddenly customers are publicly declaring their allegiance to the company flag for everyone they know and trust to see! How exciting.

Better yet, smart businesses figured out that offering incentives, perks, rewards and promotions to those clients and customers who connected with them online not only allowed for measurement of that marketing effort, but built even MORE loyalty and engagement.

Would your customers like to engage with you online? Have you asked them?

Attracting new customers

I posted on Twitter that I needed input about a software solution. Within moments, several online buddies suggested the same company name.

Seconds later, that company contacted me directly through Twitter and offered me a promo code if I’d be willing to give them a test run. Not only was the solution exactly what I needed, but the level of customer service I experienced was outstanding. Oh, and I tweeted about their greatness to more than 2,000 of my followers.

Let people know what your company does. Share your brand’s values and tell others what you think is important – in the world, in business, in your life. Some may not be interested, but those folks would walk by your store anyway. They’re not your target audience.

The audience that needs to find you is out there looking for you. Send up a flair and let them know where you are. The return on the social media investment is tremendous for your customers and your brand!

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