In the last decennia word-of-mouth marketing has got a new definition: social media. Every business knows that social media can be important to their success. There are more than 2 billion people using social media today, it allows companies to make those people aware of their brand, engage with them and potentially have a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool. Though this is evidential nowadays for large companies it seems like SME’s are not taking advantage of social media too its full potential. SME’s should invest time and resources in social media to enjoy the benefits.
There are 3 main benefits for the use of social media: brand awareness, brand engagement and perhaps the most important benefit word-of-mouth. Social media is the ideal for SME’s way to make people aware of your brand, for SME’s its financially impossible to expose people to your brand via television advertisement. In the social media environment its cheap to expose people to brands in often highly relevant contexts, which strengthens the relationship between the costumer and the brand. The next benefit is brand engagement. This is a step further in the relationship between customers and companies. Brand engagement is an opportunity for companies to have a 2-way conversation with their customers. Engaged customers can be provided information about the brand when asked for. Also brand engagement is particularly useful to incorporate the customer in the process of meeting new needs. When a customer is engaged it’s easy for companies to provide real value too them via social media. The biggest revenue of social media is created when costumers start advising your product to other people. This is the word-of-mouth, but this can only be obtained when costumers are already aware of your brand and engaged with it.
We stated that social media is affordable for SME’s but that doesn’t mean that SME’s shouldn’t keep track of their invested time and money. Because it is important to know if social media efforts are paying off, if the revenues aren’t going up it means you’re not using the social media in the right way. To keep track of invested time and money companies can use metrics. Common metrics that can be used on facebook are: number of fans to measure brand awareness, number of comments to measure brand engagement and number of responses to referral invite to measure word-of-mouth. Another example is Twitter: valence of tweets to measure brand awareness, number of followers to measure brand engagement and number of retweets to measure word-of-mouth. The last example is the videosharing website YouTube: number of views to measure brand awareness, number of subscribers to measure brand engagement and number of times republished on other social media to measure word-of-mouth.
We can conclude that social media is a powerful tool for SME’s to have an effective marketing policy. The three main benefits that SME’s can pour out of social media are brand awareness, brand engagement and word of mouth. Using social media is important but perhaps even more important is the measuring the success of social media, this can be done easily via simple metrics. This can be found in the most famous quote about social media: ‘We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.’ – Erik Qualman, 2010
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