Business Influence In The Social Media Age |

Business Influence In The Social Media Age

By Katie Bennett / August 12, 2014

A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to go to an afternoon course at Oxford Brookes University where Mark Shaefer, a globally recognised blogger, speaker and educator gave a talk about business influence in the social media age.

In this blog, I’ve summarised the key takeaways from the session.

#1 – Humans buy from humans

Before advertising and broadcasting, people expected a human experience, they wanted to know who they were buying from, and honesty and trust were the first considerations of the buying process.

As advertising was introduced, many businesses formed a routine of paying someone to do all the work and then waiting for the customers to come to them. They were being reactive instead of proactive.

In recent years, the amount of money being put into advertising and newspapers has drastically fallen and television is expected to follow a similar trend. Well, what about websites? In the last 2 years, a staggering 60% of websites, have experienced fewer unique visits. Why? It’s gone back to needing that human interaction. People are going to other places, they are using social media for instant communication and to assess the trustworthiness of businesses.

Initially, many companies were hoping that the social media era would disappear. But it didn’t. Social media platforms are continuing to grow and somehow we are now in a social generation where cat selfies get more likes than the Pope! Why? It’s not useful, it’s not helpful, but in a way it’s clever content.

Time is repeating itself – Our values have gone back to basic principles; your consumers want to know you.

#2 – Social Media Provides Interactions Leading to loyalty

How does social media fit into the mix?

Consumers have begun to endorse brands in extreme ways. People are getting tattoos of the Nike logo on their feet, women are painting coffee brands like Starbucks on their nails, but why and how has this come about? There must be a strong connection and engagement with businesses.

Social media allows business to target small drops of communication with consumers and over time this chain of engagement leads to loyalty.

We form relationships with brands just as we do with people. This is where social media fits into the mix. Using social media allows you to drip feed small pieces of communication to your audience over a period of time to the point where all the engagement leads into ultimate brand loyalty.

Over the last 2 years, the number of people following brands on the social web has doubled and the fascinating thing about this is that all of this effort is earned and not bought. Companies are starting to realise they need to create this content and these types of small provocations. It is earned media.

#3 – The information eco-system

What’s the role of the website?

Websites used to simply be a destination, and people made little effort in assigning big budgets to make their website look good in order for customers to convert. But today, we need to populate the social web systemically in order to point consumers to the relevant place on our websites where they can instantly find what they are looking for.

Facebook search has tripled over the last 2 years, people needn’t log out to search anymore, so companies need to systematically go where the customers are and populate the social web, meeting them at their point of need and then sending them back to their website, where information about products and services lies.

#4 – The social media mindset

Why are business stumbling with the social media minset? Because they are not making an adjustment culturally. Companies that are succeeding are moving from selling to helping customers. Having social media success is a combination of the following 3 things:

  1. Meaningful content
  2. Targeted connections
  3. Authentic helpfulness

To have the opportunity for massive reach and authority, there needs to be something rich and deep that you are providing to your consumers, such as a video or a blog. Most companies are recognising the need for content but they are missing the fact that they need their content to move via targeted connections. Businesses need to find and build up their audience in order to make their content move and get it shared.

A word to the wise, people are tired of being sold to and bored of watching an array of adverts. They no longer want to find you, you now need to find them and begin the communication chain. Consumers want to to go and play farmville and candy crush, they want to see pictures of cats and funny videos – this is what they are finding interesting! People won’t spend 3 seconds with an advertisement anymore but they will with content.

So, the main takeaway from this? To sell, you need to be helpful.

What does your business do on social media that works well? Have you moved away from traditional advertising? Or have you been to a recent master class and picked up some tips of your own?

As always, let me know in the comments or by tweeting me @Klbennett_

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Katie Bennett


After developing a passion for marketing whilst studying Business at GCSE, Katie then went on to study Marketing and Public relations at University. Since graduating she joined in March 2014.

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