How social media offers new opportunities for brands to engage consumers

If your company’s marketing plan consists of just one website, you’re missing out on a lot of potential customers. According to the University of Maine, social media is used by 93.33% of internet users and 72.3% of the entire US population (over 240 million people). Globally, the average time spent on social media each day is 2 hours and 24 minutes. The average social media user visits 6.6 different social media networks. 33% of internet users would rather contact a brand on social media than by phone. You miss out on millions of potential customers every day if you don’t use at least one social networking platform.

Brands can leverage social media platforms to collect real-time data on their audiences’ preferences and test new visuals to optimize photos and videos across marketing and e-commerce touchpoints. From my observations, the smartest companies will continue to invest in platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to inform their visual strategy and ultimately maximize online income and long-term business growth. The flexibility of social media makes it an ideal platform for storytelling, product launches and new initiatives. As we approach a new era of e-commerce, it’s evident that social media marketing is no longer an option; it is a business-critical activity.

Fast access to information

From the consumer’s perspective, social media improves the shopping experience. Before the advent of social media and the internet, people who wanted product information often had to speak to store staff or someone they knew who was using the product. That has changed dramatically with social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and Instagram, which are full of free information that anyone can easily and quickly access at any time. A consumer may be able to obtain information about a product through a company website, but may still have questions.

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Social media is also impacting consumer behavior as it allows shoppers to gain direct product knowledge by engaging directly with retailers or other consumers. Examine the social media! Complete strangers can answer your questions, or you can tag the company and potentially hear directly from the manufacturer. Using social media to find out these details can eliminate the need to visit a physical location, saving both time in the store and time spent commuting.

Customer and audience participation

Social media platforms allow you to communicate directly with customers and fans while giving them the opportunity to interact directly with your brand. Unlike traditional media, which only allows one-way contact, social media is not a one-way street. If you want your customers and followers to be interested, you need to get involved. Maintain an active social media presence and respond to comments and questions about your posts in a way that is consistent with your brand. You can also use social media monitoring to keep track of what people are saying on the social web. Burger King does more than tweet; it also responds to others mentioning BK.

images and graphics

“As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Being able to see something usually brings a lot more clarity than just hearing about it. This is another example of how social media has influenced customer behavior in the modern economy. Until now, shoppers could only see their chosen items by visiting a store that carried them or watching a TV commercial that showcased the product in a carefully curated way.

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For consumers who want to see a product before they buy it, social media can provide images and videos, particularly of other consumers using that product. The availability of these photos can be a deciding factor in the purchase decision. Websites and advertisements often showcase goods with optimal lighting and sound on a white background. A food dehydrator seems like a great buy until you read a consumer review that reveals it’s small and very noisy. Potential customers can monitor the scale of the product and its real-world usage via social media without leaving their homes or suffering from buyer regrets.

Buyers and marketers now have a level playing field thanks to social media. Consumers can get to know and interact with brands much more quickly and easily, and vice versa. Brands can listen to their customers on an individual level and help them address issues faster. Because of social media, consumers now have significantly higher expectations of the companies they support. Organizations of all sizes can rise to the challenge if they have the necessary tools.

The views expressed are personal.