Social businesses have a significant competitive advantage, as they keep pace with today’s market. Now that consumers are more connected, informed, and empowered than most businesses, a growing gap persists between consumer’s expectations and a business’s ability to deliver.
According to Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Advantage, there are two factors required for business success.
2) Organizational Health
Smart is defined by strategy, marketing, finance, and technology; basically decision sciences.
A healthy organization is defined by minimal politics and confusion, high morale and productivity – and low turnover among good employees; it’s social.
There is a connection between being healthy and being social – healthy provides context for the smart attributes; it can create a competitive advantage. When businesses leverage health and embrace social, marketing is a natural outcome. In other words, healthy social business, by its very nature, is contagious.
Today many business owners and executives are struggling to figure out what, if anything, they should be doing with social media. “According to a study by Insites Consulting, some companies still view it from the sidelines, rather than integrating it fully with their overall marketing efforts. Less than half of the businesses surveyed have integrated social media into their business processes. And, 43% of U.S. firms are just getting started, or are still in the process of, evaluating whether or not is effective.”
“The most important information Insites discovered is that businesses that have already integrated social media into their operations are seeing greater financial results from their efforts than those who have not. It’s time to get off the fence!” (Source)
Understanding the role of social media in your business is important; however before you get caught up in tactics first ask yourself “Is my business social?” If not, or if you aren’t sure, here are 3 reasons why building it into your existing marketing offers a significant competitive advantage:
1. Social adds pull to the push, making your marketing attractive. What a beautiful thing it is to be able to draw customers toward your business, instead of relying on broadcast or one-way communications mediums to build brand impressions. This process is often called Inbound Marketing.
Marketing efforts perceived by consumers as an interruption are no longer effective. Consumers want to communicate on their terms.
Infusing social into your business doesn’t mean that you abandon your tried-and-true marketing tactics. Being a social business requires a different mindset; it updates effective traditional marketing practices by maximizing appropriate calls to action and web site references, and carefully and thoughtfully positions opportunities for feedback across your marketing mix. In fact, as mentioned in Integrating Social into your Marketing? Don’t Overlook Your Most Important Asset, it can transform your website into your most valued marketing asset.
For example, The Krazy Coupon Lady is a website that’ll turn a Sunday coupon-clipper into a Coupon maniac. The website is the marketing hub for the The Krazy Coupon Ladies. The site is updated constantly with new deals, has an active blog and a “brag” lounge, which is an interactive chat spot to share all things couponing. Consumers love the thrill of a challenge, look forward to sharing their successes and strive to communicate on the web–something traditional, outbound marketing and Sunday newspaper coupon promotions alone just can’t compete with.
By adding social into their website, The Krazy Coupon Ladies have attracted an audience and orchestrated an effective strategy to meet their needs, using non-traditional tactics (blogging, site promotions) to enhance consumers’ use of traditional (newspaper, print) marketing ads. Read How Does a Business Generate Traffic from Social Media for more about building your following.
2. Social networking adds relational power to your existing marketing. It enables unprecedented connectivity with the consumer, providing Marketers with the ability to truly ENHANCE consumers’ lives. Social networking allows marketers to make marketing memorable. It provides the technological ability to delight, inspire and surprise the audience in ways that marketing has never been able to before. There is an unlimited number of ways to creatively integrate social into campaigns to make it exciting for marketers and consumers alike! People are interactive and love to share their voice and take part in games and promotions that generate buzz.Facebook is one example of a marketing channel that facilitates social network activity. According to Business Insider, it appears that globally Facebook is being used to generate lots of interest.
Organizations that adopt a social mindset can benefit by empowering colleagues and customers. So far we’ve emphasized social’s incredible capacity to connect business with external audiences, but we must not neglect it’s ability to enable businesses to connect and engage with internal stakeholders.
Just as customers are empowered with knowledge through their personal networks, social businesses keep colleagues informed and openly communicate with employees by:
- Communicating company initiatives
- Listening to feedback and input
- Mapping consumer touchpoints (whether through email, in-store, on a social platform or at a customer service center)
- Encouraging sharing and collaboration across functions, especially those who have ongoing contact with customers/prospects.
A healthy social business will inherently energize existing marketing efforts through empowered employees.
3. Without social, you are neglecting your audience. If your business isn’t social, it’s time to give your marketing a makeover. Let’s face it, if all your friends decide their new favorite place is the local lounge and you’re still sticking to the old tried-and-true corner café, you’re just out of the loop, which translates to out of the conversation. According to Hubspot, US internet users spend 3x more minutes on blogs and social networks than on email.
Smart marketers know they need to be where the conversation is…and even smarter marketers know how to start the conversation. If you neglect to put social in your marketing, your marketing is likely at a dead-end…going into never-never-land. And without a call-to-action tying in your strategy, all you got for that glossy print piece was real estate in a trashcan somewhere. Make your DM efforts work harder by enticing readers to visit your site, comment on your FB page, comment on your blog. Consumers expect businesses to be social. The time to be nice is now; play friendly and put yourself in consumers’ corners.
Not sure where to start with your makeover to generate a competitive advantage? For starters, in addition to the options I just listed above, think about how consumers are using smart phones, and begin by:
- Making sure your website is mobile friendly. See Optimize for Mobile and Watch your Social Media Presence Soar
- Updating local search options
- Considering location-based options– consumers want options
Does your company have a social mindset? If not, what steps are you willing to take to enhance the health of your business? What else could you be doing to make your marketing more socially-engaging and give yourself a competitive advantage? Please comment and help carry the conversation forward. Thank you!