Why businesses need a social media strategy

Social media strategies have rapidly become an important part of the integrated marketing planning process. Companies that do not bother spending much time investing in the social media aspect of a marketing plan are likely going to lose out on a big segment that could have been used as a great marketing avenue.

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Nowadays, the web has long been where it is at, and the presence and popularity of social network sites only strengthen this fact. The reality is much of society is spending time interacting on websites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to name a few. Augie Ray points out back in his 2008 post on socialmediatoday.com, once upon a time businesses actually debated whether or not they even needed to establish a web presence. Today that goes without saying. With few exceptions, businesses need to have an online presence. Companies that don't create a web presence are going to lose a lot of visibility and, as a result, competitive advantage as well.

Fast forward to today and social media popularity has exploded. No longer are web surfers just content consumers, they are now much more involved in producing content as well. Businesses that ignore this aspect of web interaction are failing to realize the prevalence of social media and how it can be used to their benefit.

Here are a few ways not having a social media strategy can harm a business:

Lose visibility

Companies that do not invest in social media marketing lose opportunities to obtain higher levels of visibility. You've got to figure that if one happy customer has 300 friends on any given network, there is the possibility they'll tell all their friends. Interacting with those on social networks makes good business sense. In addition, many companies are successfully increasing brand visibility through social media marketing channels. Social networks are where customers are spending their time, so it makes sense companies would want to create a presence there too.

This is not unlike traditional marketing channels such as television or radio commercials that are primed for specific networks and during precise time slots. It's important to try to be visible at times most likely to be seen, and today that's on the Internet where people are creating content and socializing. Granted, the interactive segment aligned with social media makes it different, but in terms of visibility, it makes sense to be present where it is more likely to be seen.

Lost opportunities

Companies that don't bother investing will find several opportunities lost. This loss includes missing out on connecting with large segments of consumers and potential customers; let's not exclude current customers that may switch loyalties and try a competitor that is connecting on this level. Today's consumers are highly demanding and those that cannot have their immediate needs met will quickly turn to competitors.

Speaking of Competitors . . .

Companies that are investing efforts in more traditional marketing channels and avoiding the whole social media aspect are likely to find themselves losing the competitive edge. For every company that doesn't get involved in social media, there are several others who are more than willing. Which company is going to end up with the competitive edge?

Ability to do fast damage control

Not having a social media strategy ensures a company has an inability to provide damage control to user generated content that is negative. Consistent good experiences make for a strengthening of brand reputation, but all it takes is one bad experience and a posting on the web about it and that can spread like wildfire. Especially through social media networks. Not to mention one of the first places consumers go to file a complaint is to a company's social media profile? Shouldn't someone be there to respond in a timely fashion?

There are many reasons for companies today to seriously invest strong efforts in social media strategies, in many ways, it is detrimental not to do so. Can you imagine businesses of yesterday who did not jump on newspaper, radio or television opportunities? Those businesses would have sunk quickly.

There are always levels of risk with any venture, but the question is can today's businesses afford not to invest or pay attention to the opportunities to be found in social media?


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