Taking a turn from my last long informational blog post on social media and small businesses, I am going to try a more personable approach (similar to others in the class). I will start with the benefits of social media along will a discussing a successful campaign and lastly offer other was to include the internet into your marketing strategies.
Engaging in social media will help strengthen the brand experience and therefore support brand building. From this a company will become more attractive to current and prospective customers and employees. This, assuming the company has a positive web presence. Social can help build a good reputation for any business. Edosowmwam says that brand awareness starts with the experiences of the employees of the company. The company should be approachable, people-friendly and reachable via the web.
According to Edosomwam social media is for
- promoting communication between employees and management;
- allowing employees to share what is going on in the office;
- sharing content with the outside world, including webcast, videos and updates;
- communicating with current and potential customers;
- encouraging the company’s employees to be part of a recognized community; and
- discussing the goals of marketing and communicating.
Social media can be used to be approachable, available and honest. It is also great for communicating in a timely fashion. As a result, companies can reduce rumors, negative talk and promote positivity for their company.
Best Practices, first, know why you are networking online. Too often business owners join social media sites with a desire to grow their business, but instead spend their time reconnecting with old friends. While it may be great to reconnect with friends from the past, it’s probably not going to give you the return on your investment in time that you had hoped for in the beginning. Second, create a limit of how much time you will spend on these sites and make that time preferably during your non-busy hours or outside of your “golden sales hours.” Third, make sure to add value to any conversations that you become a part of, whether in a group or just a general message sent out from you. Every time you send a message out, your followers will determine whether or not they will read the next one. Last and most important, know who your contacts know. Look at the people your followers are connected to. This will help you ask for referrals and grow your own network. Remember the door of opportunity is easier to open when someone holds it open for you.
For Example: WAO BAO
If a restaurant signed on to a social networking site in hopes to increase its lunch crowd through word-of-mouth referral marketing, one way that they could accomplish this is by sending out their lunch specials daily through their fan page (Facebook) or business page (LinkedIn). To take this a step further they could videotape the preparation of the meal, or post pictures of the finished product to accompany the description of the specials.
Every wednesday WOW BAO shares a special word (WOWBAO Wednesday) of the day on their facebook page. They announce on their twitter that there is a special word of the day, however you can on get the special word from their facebook page. This special word will also customers a free BAO of their choice. In addition to storefronts, WOW BAO has food trucks. They use both of their social media pages to tell their customers where their food truck is located for the day. I think it is very strange that their facebook and social media pages are not the same, facebook (hotasianbuns) and twitter (baomouth). Before even looking at the profiles, I would assume that the facebook page is more fun.
Their twitter page is very interactive with their customers. The first time I had WOW BAO, they responded to me! They retweet pictures of lunches, compliments and anything that includes their name. It seems apparent that they search for their name on twitter, because some post do not even include their twitter panhandle. There is not very much outside content on their facebook page. They only include post that will market/advertise themselves. Although, they did retweet Chick-FIl-A Water Tower, when they were giving away free sandwiches, saying that they would be there. I am guessing they did that to build a relationship? WOW BAO does have a Water Tower Location
Their facebook page is more informational. They post events going on in Chicago. They also let customers know where they can find WOW BAO in their local grocery store. Just recently, the ability to purchase WOW at Jewel has surfaced. They tell which store location and even when they first stock. My favorite part about their facebook page is the creative ways they include the BAO is advertisements, world news and around Chicago.
Other Online Communities:
Although these are not directly social media related, I did want to mention other ways online to interact with customers. Online communities can also help strengthen small businesses. In contrast to other Internet businesses, online communities rely on user-generated content to retain users.
Conversations within online communities can encourage customers to co-create brand values and spread messages virally. This is must more productive, than just passively consuming brands as per the traditional marketing model.
Amazon has pioneered the process of ‘‘collaborative filtering’’, recommendations made to customers on the basis of what customers buying the same book bought. Together with displays of unedited customer reviews, this strategy creates a community of people with similar interests who will trust and act upon the recommendations of others in the group. By encouraging customers to try out other items in this way, sales are increasing and the customers’ scope is as well. Without collaborative filtering customers probably would not have ventured out the top 100 books.
TripAdvisor encourage users to review services that they have experienced for the benefit of other users who are considering their own possible purchases. These peer reviews are regarded as far more trustworthy than traditional promotional materials that have been produced by the company itself.
This blog (http://checkoutblog.com) is written by ordinary Walmart employees who are encouraged to speak freely about Walmart and its suppliers without corporate editing. It is unclear how successful this initiative will be, but the company has clearly from past mistakes and is prepared to try again with an approach that challenges its traditional organizational culture.
Cisco (www.cisco.com) is a successful example of a company that has fostered customer communities and saved significant customer support costs by letting customers help themselves to technical support information via web communities.
United may have an example you do not want emulate. However, Untied (www.untied.com) is devoted to criticism of the customer service provided by United Airlines. Originally established by one disgruntled and dissatisfied passenger, the site developed momentum as others contributed their own horror stories about the service quality and the company presented a series of textbook examples of how not to handle complaints.
Fishbowl Marketing is a promotion-based email firm in the restaurant industry. It combines restaurant and email expertise to develop email promotion programs for independent restaurant owners.
Social media or network services such as Facebook, Twitter, and other websites have impacted how millions of Americans especially those under 35 interact or network with one another, shop and view brands. The Internet provides numerous venues for consumers to share their views, preferences, or experiences with others, as well as opportunities for firms to take advantage of WOM (word of mouth) marketing.
There are numerous ways to include social media and online efforts into your marketing campaign and budget. You can use the examples above of what to do and what not to do. Social media is the future of small businesses, however if done poorly it can harm your business. In short, be personable, consistent and honest and everything else should come. Also, you can take tips from Walmart and Amazon and create your own online communities to benefit your business.