The answer is…it depends.
Your question should not be whether or not you should be using social media to build your brand. It should be, “Is my ideal customer using social media?” If they are, you should be too.
Here are some stats from the Social Media Examiner that show the growth in social media:
- 26 million (1 in 7) U.S. adults use Twitter monthly (eMarketer)
- Facebook has eclipsed the 500 million-user mark, making the social networking site larger that the U.S. population. (eMarketer)
- Americans spend 17% of their online time on social media sites (Center for Media Research)
- Blogs are the most useful social media tool, say 51% of businesses (McKinsey Quarterly’s “Global Survey”)
If your business or organization is targeting consumers, whether you’re a grocery store or a charity, there are likely huge benefits to utilizing social media to build your brand. Creating a blog, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account (for starters) will provide new access points to engage with your ideal customers. If you are targeting businesses, you should also look at LinkedIn, as it’s a social networking tool for businesses.
A few points to keep in mind:
It will take time to develop content and time to attract fans and followers. You must commit to set aside the time to produce consistent content on a consistent basis.
The organizations that succeed in social media are focused on providing valuable content for their audience. The ones who fail tend to just talk about themselves.
Using RSS feeds, you can set blog posts to automatically update your Facebook page and Twitter account. Using HootSuite or TweetDeck, you can add new Tweets and update your Facebook page. I wouldn’t advocate relying solely on automation for content delivery, but it provides a consistent base, while making your life easier.
Remember that you are building your brand by shaping your ideal customer’s experience with your organization. Your content and conversations should support your brand platform and emphasize what differentiates you from the competition.
By engaging in social media, you still want to lead a customer along the path to conversion – a sale, subscription to an e-newsletter, attending a webinar, etc. Don’t hesitate to include a call to action…but demonstrate the value to them first.