Page 67

JournalSpring2014

JOURNAL Spring 2014 65 ECONOM$IC Dev$elop$ment Building Brand Awareness Creating a social media presence may seem like a dive into un-chartered territory. However, whether a business has been estab-lished for decades or just building from the ground up, social media is the perfect platform for any business owner to build their brand, attract customers and then retain them. So-cial media outlets are great places for businesses to tell their story, set their company tone, and obtain cus-tomer feedback. A major brand like The Coca- Cola Company has a huge market-ing budget that allows it to purchase millions of dollars of traditional and social media advertising. In contrast, small business owners have fewer resources when it comes to getting the word out about who they are and what services they provide. Utiliz-ing social media can level the play-ing field by providing every business with the opportunity to compete for customers’ business. Social media users are increasing daily and the statistics are hard to ignore. The Pew Center reports that 72 percent of online adults use social networking sites. Social media al-lows businesses to reach thousands of people for free or minimal cost. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinter-est, Google+ and Foursquare are available at no cost. As any size busi-ness can leverage the power of social media, here are a few tips to increase brand awareness. Know Your Market A good starting point is to know the business brand and demographic segments that need to be reached. Each platform has unique users. For instance, women, African-Americans and Latinos show high interest in sites like Twitter, Instagram and Pin-terest. Internet users under the age of 50 are more likely to use a social net-working site of any kind, and those ages 18 to 29, are the most likely to be social media users. Those living in urban settings are more likely than rural users to use social networking. With numbers like these, it is clear that social media can be an effective tool for all types of businesses, both business-to-consumer and business-to- business. Identify With Customers Whether a company sells di-rectly to consumers or to other busi-nesses, one of the keys to social me-dia branding success in connecting with customers is the identification of topics that followers will find inter-esting. Business-to-business brands can share stories of success, inspira-tion or discounted services. It is im-portant; however, to share messages that match the tone of the brand. If a legal service has established its identity as being serious, then it may seem odd to share a YouTube video with babies singing. It would be more appropriate to share an ar-ticle titled, “12 Ways for Your Busi-ness to Save Money.” In comparison, a bridal consulting company can share bridal shoe styles on Pinterest, a social bookmarking site, or write a blog about how to avoid becoming a “bridezilla.” Regardless of the type of business, it is best to avoid sales pitches unless the business is offer-ing special incentives. Instead, build a relationship with customers that will change them from one-time cus-tomers to repeat customers. Meet and Greet Customers Finally, remember when engag-ing customers on social media that the goal is not to make sales, but to establish a brand message that cus-tomers and prospects can identify when they come in contact with the business. To make sales, a business must still connect directly with peo-ple. Friends, customers and vendors still crave face-to-face communica-tion. Get out and meet them, but use social media to help initiate contact. Schedule a gathering to chat about industry topics, share business leads or make social connections. For ex-ample, Meetup.com makes it easy to organize an event. A business owner with the best social media brand still has to shake hands in order to continue to build his or her business. However, social media makes it easier and more af-fordable to build brand awareness, connect with prospective clients or customers and continue to engage existing customers. s through Social Media By Dawn W. Strobert


JournalSpring2014
To see the actual publication please follow the link above