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  • Business advantages of using social media

    Social media has become a major contributor to the evolution of a company's interaction with potential clients.

    Social media sites are unlocking new doors for brands to interact with consumers.Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are turning regular consumers into brand ambassadors, which has led to businesses engaging with users like never before.The benefits of consumer interaction aren't without effort, however. A brand must devote time and energy to a feed or social media site in order to expand interest and build strong relationships.

    "If businesses haven't got the right (social media) presence then they're really going to be missing out, because customers are expecting to find businesses and brands on there," Julia Bramble, founder of social media consultancy Bramble Buzz, told The Guardian.

    What brands should do
    Bramble noted that it's vital for businesses to focus on their target market in order to make a splash with their social media.

    "The key message is to think about who your customers are, think about everything you know about them, where they live, what their lifestyles are, what their interests are, business wise and outside of business, and that'll give you big clues as to the social networks they're likely to be using," Bramble told the source.

    According to information recently released by the Internet Advertising Bureau U.K., social media is not just for teenagers.

    The study found that the average age of consumers that connected with the brands on social media was 39 years old. A whopping 84 percent of those interacting with brands were female.

    Bramble said once a brand begins to initiate a social media strategy, businesses need to put emphasis on how consumer interaction will translate into sales and brand growth.

    "How does all that fantastic activity and buzz translate into tangible results for the business? That's the key to getting social media to grow your business," Bramble said.

    Social media should propel people into stores or spike traffic to a website. That's the goal for most brands, and a strong consumer response via social media outlets can help indicate favorable results down the road.

    The power of 'Like'
    The study from the Internet Advertising Bureau showed that positive feelings for a brand - like when a consumer hits the Like button on a social media site such as Facebook - often relate to future purchases.

    Consumers liking a particular brand were more probable to use the product in the long term, so companies should look for ways to stimulate such interaction.

    Using Facebook, Claire Mitchell was able to expand the worldwide reach of her book, The Girls Mean Business. Mitchell netted 14,000 likes from countries all over the world, according to The Guardian.

    She said the best way to interact with consumers is by asking general or business-related questions, sharing stories about troubling situations of user's and giving advice or solutions to problems.

    "I get great feedback that it helps people, because when you're sitting there in your house running this business and trying to juggle it with kids or other jobs, it's a really lonely place to be sometimes and it just makes people feel as though they're not alone," Mitchell told The Guardian.

    Adam Ball is another entrepreneur who took advantage of social media prowess. Ball, who owns the design company Concept Cupboard, told The Guardian: "Twitter gives you a free platform to let the world know who you are and what you do. When you're looking to approach someone for potential partnerships, meetings and so on, this can be a great tool to reach out to people. A lot of professionals use the platform and it can be a great way to introduce yourself, as long as you're not just spamming people."