Four Reasons to Embrace Social Media for Business
Ok, so show of virtual hands, who had the privilege of being at the Koehler & Dramm wedding design show with Holly Heider Chapple?
If you’re sitting in front of your computer with your hand in the air, let me high five it for you! Yay! And if you’re not… sad face! See you next time? And also, here’s why that’s relevant:
Holly talked quite a bit about being active in social media and blogging cyberspace. In fact, she gives quite a bit of credit to her social media and blogging efforts for her success and incredible popularity. However, she also stressed that it was a stretch for her and definitely took her out of her comfort zone, but she understood that staying alive in any business today means adapting to changing technology and means of communication. “Change or die,” as she said. It sounds a little harsh, but she’s right.
So, as you embark on your educational journey with KDIOF and establish yourself in the industry, here are four big reasons why social media is important, and why it’s worth your time.
1. Those dang Millennials!
It’s no secret that social media and advances in technology have changed the way consumers interact with brands. To ask a question or get in touch with a company, you no longer have to dial up their phone number or make a visit. You can text, chat, email, or… interact with them online via their social platforms. One of the driving forces behind this shift is the buying mentality of the millennial generation who have, in a way, pioneered this movement where we’re more connected than ever via technology, but the in-person element is quite removed. Whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing is up for debate, but the fact that there is a shift is undeniable, and it’s up to companies and business owners (you!) to communicate with consumers on their terms, not on yours. (If you don’t, they will find someone else who does.) Social media is a big piece of this new era of digital communication and accessibility.
2. The power of the SHARE.
By now, you’ve probably heard the term “going viral,” yes? When a particular post or piece of content takes off and liked and shared thousands of times in a very short time frame, this is referred to as “going viral.” Examples include Chewbacca Mom, “Cash Me Ousside” Girl, Grumpy Cat, the Mannequin Challenge, Gangnam Style and the more recent “Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen,” and more, which skyrocketed those featured to internet stardom overnight. While going viral isn’t something you can plan (it happens organically), the impact is massive. Now, Holly’s internet success didn’t happen overnight, and that’s also true for most other folks too. She worked diligently at it for years, but today, she is one of the most-followed floral designers on Instagram, and that didn’t happen by accident. I’d even argue that a strong social following that is built up over a longer period of time is better than the overnight success of viral stars, because there’s staying power and reliability in fans who follow because they’ve sought you out.
3. It’s like having a virtual bullhorn.
This goes hand in hand with #2. Word of mouth is still one of the most effective marketing tools out there, mainly because it comes from a source that people trust. Social media has the ability to amplify the word of mouth effect exponentially, because recommendations are no longer made by one friend who was asked about which wedding florist they used in a personal conversation. Instead, the same recently engaged bride-to-be can now post on Facebook about looking for a wedding florist, and get recommendations from 30 or more of her friends. Are you on that list? Maybe, but if you don’t dedicate some time to being present on social media yourself, your odds drop significantly, because you are less accessible online than a florist who is on social media, and these days, being accessible to potential clients includes a website and social media accounts. In addition, you have a greater reach with your own marketing on social media as well. When you combine your marketing messages with the power of the share (#2) and the influence of your network of followers (#3), you get social media nirvana!
4. It’s an easy (and free!) digital portfolio.
I like to describe Instagram as “visual Twitter,” because instead of 140 characters of text, you get to share images, and what better way to showcase your work? Facebook also has the option to create albums, so, for example, if you’re a wedding designer, you’d be able to create albums on Facebook for each wedding you do. And don’t even get me started on Pinterest, especially for wedding clients! Portfolio books are beautiful, but oftentimes they are expensive and time-consuming to make, and in order for clients to see them, you have to get them in the door. Building a website with gallery capabilities is another great way to showcase your work, and no business in this day and age should be without a website, but social platforms give you the ability to share your work in real time without the time and cost constraints of updating your website or portfolio book.
A Word to the Wise
When you’re using social media for business, it’s a much more crucial undertaking than having accounts for personal use, (and as long as we’re talking about that, your business and personal accounts should ALWAYS be separate). It’s important to dedicate time to doing it right, and that means having a voice, sharing relevant and interesting content, engaging and interacting with your fans and followers, and being consistent and present. It’s worse to do it badly than not at all, so our advice is to start small. Pick one or two platforms that you feel you can dedicate adequate time to – the primary networks for our market are generally Facebook and Instagram, but Twitter and Pinterest aren’t far behind, and Pinterest can be a great sales/marketing tool, especially if you do weddings! Networks like Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ and others are in competition for your time and attention as well, so it’s important to decide what’s going to work best for you and determine where the majority of your customers are. (Wherever your target market is hanging out, that’s where you should be too.)
Now, get out there and start Facebooking or Instagramming or whatever the operative verb is for the networks you pick! Go get ‘em, tiger!