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Published 14 June 2012 04:03, Updated 14 June 2012 09:56
For a business building a social media presence, increased sales, top notch job candidates and better brand recognition are the key measures of success.
Until last year, Deloitte Digital’s lead partner, Frank Farrall, was still hearing clients fobbing off social media as something for 13 year olds with nothing better to do. “I used to get a lot of clients ask: ‘Do we really need to use social media?’” Farrall says. “Now the only question is: ‘How do we use it effectively?’”
That’s because companies now know there are sales to be made from the social network. Active wear retailer Lorna Jane has cracked it. The company’s online revenue has grown 400 per cent in the past 18 months. Facebook is a key source of traffic and drives the equivalent revenue of two bricks and mortar stores.
Lorna Jane’s experience exemplifies why social media sites are far from frivolous. At their simplest, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are tools that let organisations connect with people on an unprecedented scale. “Word of mouth has always been incredibly powerful in business and social media sites amplify that effect,” Deloitte’s Farrall says. In 2000, consulting firm McKinsey & Company reported that two-thirds of the United States economy was influenced by word of mouth opinions and calculated that one personal referral equates to 600 advertising exposures. Farrall says social media’s real opportunity is to exponentially expand a company’s network of possible customers, suppliers and employees.
“The marketplace is full of potential clients and recruits for us at Deloitte,” Farrall says. “We have identified the pools of people we want to be connecting with and have used social media to engage with that audience.” It generates new leads and 25 per cent of Deloitte Digital recruits.
There is no single social media strategy that suits every business but the litmus test for whether an organisation’s approach is effective is the same; does it garner results?
Friends, followers, fellow pinners and like are one thing but increased sales, job candidates clamouring at the door and improved brand recognition are another thing altogether. For a business building a social media presence they are the metrics that matter. “The great thing about social media is it allows others to work for you and if you have a good product and core business it’s not that hard,” Farrall says. “There is no huge additional cost as it allows you to be smarter with investments you’ve already made.”
For example, one of Farrall’s clients had a website promotion that didn’t get much traffic. “They had some strong brand partners with a good online presence, so we recommended our client provide the content into their partner’s social media feed,” Farrall says. “The partner needed content to offer their customers and our client needed customers to see the promotion. The uplift was dramatic.”
This illustrates an important lesson in social media; choosing the right channel is paramount.
“Regardless of the strength of the underlying offer, getting the channel right is important,” Farrall says. “If you can work out the audience you want to reach and identify influential people within it to target, then with minimal effort you can amplify your message in the right place.”
CP Communications director Catriona Pollard says social media platforms are the new search engine for consumers. “We all head online to get advice and recommendations on products now,” she says. “Brands and business that aren’t exploring social media are absolutely missing out on easy opportunities to increase sales, brand recognition and volume referrals.”
But it takes the right approach to achieve such goals via social media.
“The place to start is asking why you want to use it and what you want to achieve, as opposed to thinking everyone else is doing it so we had better, too,” she says. “There has to be a strategy behind the platforms you choose, the messages you share and [their] frequency.”
As with Deloitte, Pollard has seen a marked increase in business leads and recruits through social media. “I get work referrals through Twitter all the time,” Pollard says.
With social media such an evolving scene, BRW asked a range of social media and digital marketing gurus for their votes on which companies use it the best and why. The following are BRW’s pick of the eight best companies and individuals here and abroad.