Whether you like it or not, your business (brand) is being talked about … So you might as well join the conversation.
The weight of word-of-mouth marketing is unequivocal; think of social networking as word-of-mouth on steroids! Customers are using social media to discuss, evaluate, and recommend your business. As a business, you must tap into that conversation not as a moderator, but as a participant.
By engaging in social networks, companies can gain insights into the perception of their brand, their competitors, and their industry. On the other hand, not doing so leaves your brand exposed and vulnerable to misinformation and misperception. Social Media gives brands an unprecedented opportunity to communicate and engage with their customers.
Having a corporate website does not qualify as being active in the social media realm. The latter is static, unidirectional, and is not perceived as a trustworthy source of information about your brand. Don’t look surprised; customers tend to search public forums, Twitter, and other social networks to find out what people are saying about your brand and they will only resort to your website to learn the features about your product or service. Think of it from a personal perspective – when you want to buy a product, do you call up the company and ask them if their product is any good, or do you ask friends who have tried the service? Social media allows companies to become that friend!
Some businesses fear getting into social media because it exposes their brand to possibility of negative comments. Here’s a reality check: whether you are there or not, they will comment anyway. However, being part of the conversation gives you a chance to learn about these complaints early on and be proactive about resolving them before they become viral and hurt your overall business.
Here are some other benefits of social media that were shared in a report by MarketingProfs, entitled Research on The Benefits of Social Media Marketing, which you might want to consider:
- Generates exposure for your business
- Increases traffic to your corporate website
- Results in new business partnerships
- Helps you rise in search engine rankings
- Generate qualified leads
- Reduce your overall marketing expenses
Social media (or social networking) has caused a power shift, from suppliers to consumers. Successful brands around the world have embraced this fact and started building communities instead audiences. They are empowering their customers, creating brand ambassadors that share the same values, interests, and beliefs as the brand. Paul Isakson, co-founder of Thinkers & Makers, said, “The best way to get people to do stuff for you, is first join them in what they are doing.”
You might argue that in Egypt, social media is not that big. Here are some facts that might change your mind:
- Over 17 Million internet users (June 2010)
- In a survey, entitled MENA Internet Media Habits (July 2010), with more than 69% of the respondents where from Egypt, 79% stated that they spend more than 3 hours a day updating their social networks and 54% use mobile application on a daily bases.
- Egypt ranks as the 23rd largest community in the world on Facebook with over 4 million users and 60% semi-annual growth rate, with 80% under the age of 30. Over 80% of these users hold at least a graduate degree.
These are only a few facts about the weight and growth rate of social media adoption in Egypt. Therefore, the claim about “not being big enough” stands corrected. You might contest by saying that in a population of 80 million, this does not serve as a critical mass; but it certainly is a niche, described as young, educated, and knowledgeable. This particular niche spends more time online than they do watching TV, listening to the radio, or reading magazines and publications. Think of how your brand can serve that growing niche and profit from it.
Social media is not a trend that is bound to phase out – it is a phenomenon that is completely shifting the way we do business. The figures that I shared with you are growing at exponential rates. There are over 190 active social media networks out there. The development and use of mobile application has made this sharing process even faster. Customers are sharing their experience with your business while having it. It’s a live broadcast that you might to tune into!
So the question is, will you watch the game from the bench, or will you come out play? Think About It!
This post was first published by John Antonios in the Community Times magazine (October 2010 issue) in Egypt. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friend, Hala Salib, for presenting the opportunity, and Maha el-Gazar, Senior Editor of Community Times magazines, for catering to it.