Social networks are not for window shopping. This may sound categorical, but the truth is that social networks are not a direct online sales channel, no matter how strong companies wish for it. Social networks were conceived as a communication channel whose purpose is to reinforce and strengthen the marketing and communication strategy of a brand.
However, social networks can influence the purchase decisions of a user, and this is where they become important. Then, what are the advantages of using social networks for your company? Let’s have a look at the main ones.
Enhancing the brand’s visibility
Suppliers, employees, clients, potential clients… Most are present on social networks, which have become the biggest window shop nobody would have ever thought of: availability 24/7 and boundless.
A good social media strategy can reach your message effectively to the highest amount of people, including actual customers but also potential and future customers.
Boosting the brand’s image
It is clear now that, thanks to social networks, we can not only achieve more visibility for our brand, but also enhance it, and the best thing is that there are no middle-men.
Social networks have become the most direct communication means between companies (brands) and society. They are an effective channel to promote the brand’s values avoiding that third parties distort the message.
An appropriate strategy can turn users into additional promoters, thus increasing the reach of the corporate message.
Direct and bidirectional communication
This direct communication between brand and user is what makes social networks an advantage. Before their surge, communication was one-ways, i.e. the brand sent a message and the user received it but could not answer in a direct and immediate way. The arrival of social media has changed the rules of communication, where both parties now talk face-to-face.
In the beginning, this new situation made many companies feel worrisome. They feared being exposed to critics publicly. However, many companies have managed to take advantage of this situation, turning this apparent weakness into a competitive advantage. The best example is how some industries have taken Twitter as the quickest and most effective channel for client support in the event of something unexpected arising.
This direct communication is very important for reputation crises. It allows to manage the situation without needing middle-men, and thus there is a higher rate of response and clarity in the message the company wants to send.
Creating customer loyalty
For many companies, getting new clients is a stronger effort than keeping the existing ones happy. With social networks, it is possible to build a trust relationship with customers to make it closer and lasting. Therefore, we are talking about an efficient method to increase customer loyalty, a very important aspect taking into account how ephemeral loyalty is today.
The features of social networks are what make them very valuable for users. These include the closeness of the brand, the availability of an active listening channel or a quick response to incidents. A customer automatically becomes a prescriber for our brand, and worth-of-mouth is the most effective advertising method there is.
Controlling crisis communication
Fuster & Ortega, two marketing experts, said in 2010 that “anybody with an internet connection can become a source of corporate scandal”. Nowadays, social networks increase the risks due to their potential to go viral.
In the case of reputational crisis, we have to detect the source on time. Then, we have to control the communication from the brand properly. Social networks allow for direct and immediate communication, without middle-men, and the two former are key to solving the situation.
Driving traffic to the web
Finally, another important advantage of social networks is that they drive traffic to our corporate web. Social networks have increasingly become one of the most important sources of visits to websites. Other than “traditional” search engines like Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are becoming important means for finding content.
However, to achieve this we need to plan a good strategy for social networks. A social media plan requires a medium to long term runway. Remember that we are seeking to balance the mutual trust of brands and users, and this has to be built through time.