Why Social Integration Is Inevitable for Brands

social media

Within the past decade, incorporating some measure of social media into advertising has become essential for businesses. Every corporate website now has a small cluster of networking links within their contact page, with pages on Facebook, a Twitter feed, a Google+ circle and maybe even a Youtube channel. Around four out of five marketers believe that social media is a long-term investment, and the results already speak for themselves. However many are also realising that numbers alone won’t cut the mustard, and that social integration is a necessary part of any brand’s marketing strategy.

After all, having 200,000 followers on Twitter or an avalanche of likes on Facebook means absolutely nothing if you’re incapable of translating those numbers into a meaningful value.

Social Integration and its Importance

Social integration refers to integrating social media and its associated functions into your marketing plan. For the most part, your social media pages will be the face of your business.

TV and radio commercials, posters, and newspaper ads can help generate awareness of a product but it is through your social media that prospective and current customers will probably find most the interaction with your brand. Indeed, so central is social media in the minds of customers today, that it can dramatically impact your sales.

One study found that 64% of customers have purchased a product because of social media content. A further 50%-60% are more likely to buy from and recommend a brand they follow on social media. This means that social media is an invaluable avenue for generating customer awareness, customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

After all, a commercial can only give the information that the commercial has. If a customer has further questions that it doesn’t answer, then there’s little else they can do to be satisfied. Likewise, if a customer has a complaint, it’s not always clear where to direct such feedback. A social media page thus provides logical avenues for both these needs. Companies that fail to actively manage their social media and integrate it into their brand’s marketing strategy will quickly lose out.

Social Integration Leads to Effective Communication

Rest assured, your customers are a very vocal lot. If something has dissatisfied them, then they’ll quickly make their opinions known. Beforehand the damage this caused was very limited. Often it would just be scathing comments made to friends and relations, or else a customer coming into a store to loudly complain to a manager. You might even get a strongly worded letter. All of which are very self-contained, limited in scope and unlikely to impact your overall marketing.

However, the internet is a lot more vocal than a letter, or one of your employees receiving a brisk telling-off. If someone posts a bad review of your brand online, it can be seen by tens of thousands of people within a few hours. As such, one aspect of social integration for your brand is public relations control through social media.

Your social media allows a public venue where dissatisfied customers can publically make their thoughts known. The benefits are twofold. First, it makes you aware of the complaint in the first place. You can’t track every blog and Youtube channel that is relevant to your brand. You can, however, track your social media pages. This allows you to quickly become informed of any problems your brand is developing and take action to make improvements.

Second, complaints on social media are a lot easier to do damage-control. Again, because you can’t be aware of every bad review made on private channels, you can’t make your voice heard in defence. All people will get from the review is the impression that your brand is bad. Through social integration, you can respond to any criticism and attempt to save face, such as by apologising for the bad experience, or offering compensation — even by adjusting customer expectations, when necessary. People looking at these responses will then not only see the other side of the customer’s experience but also that the brand is invested in and responsive to customers’ opinions. This is a big win for brand imaging.

Social Integration in the Future

It’s unlikely that social media will replace other forms of marketing. Simply put, it is another, albeit invaluable, arm of an integrated marketing strategy. But, it will become an essential tool for any brand. Social media’s ability to create an immediate and familiar link between consumer and supplier is simply too useful when leveraged, and too volatile to ignore.

Emerging methods such as influencer marketing further extend the scope and effect of social media endeavours, as well as your market strategy in general. Through managed services and SaaS solutions like NeoReach’s Social Media Influencer Marketing Platform, brands can identify and reach out to so-called “influencers” — existing persons or entities with large followings related to the audience a brand is wishing to reach. These influencers can become powerful voices for your business, and assist in establishing a business identity and nurturing engagement with your audience.

Social media can be used to treat customers the way they wish to be treated, and engage them on the level that they wish to be engaged on, allowing brands more effective and immediate avenues to improve customer loyalty and secure continued and loyal patronage.

Any brand that fails to effectively integrate social media marketing will thus be quickly left behind, struggling to make all their social media work for them and convert digital likes into actual growth.

About the Author: Christian Mills is a freelance writer and professional student who contributes articles and insights into business and social media trends for students and entrepreneurs.

[Image via Google Images]

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