The Upside and Downside of Social Media

If your home improvement business finds it challenging to nail down an effective social media strategy, you’re not alone. While most organizations agree it’s essential to connect with consumers on social media, campaign results are often difficult to measure. However, the dependence on social media to promote businesses and services has surged in the past decade—it’s now the number one way to engage consumers. 

A recent Harris Poll conducted for Sprout Social, a social media listening and analytics company, indicates businesses invest in social media for various reasons. The survey found that over 91 percent of companies plan to invest more heavily in social media over the next three years. These respondents believe companies that fail to invest in marketing will be left behind. Additionally, 62 percent think that businesses without a solid social media presence will be unsuccessful in the future.

The survey polled 250 business executives and 1,000 consumers. Sizes of companies surveyed:

  • Fewer than 200 employees (42 percent)
  • 200 to 999 employees (20 percent)
  • Over 1,000 employees (38 percent)

While most companies are willing to increase their spending on social media, less than 50 percent of businesses view their current strategies as being “very effective” as a platform to elevate the brand’s image, raise awareness, or increase sales. Clearly, there is a disconnect between the organization’s perceptions and the reality of conducting business online.

Why the Disconnect?

Consumers and businesses approach social media from different points of view. Companies see it as a vehicle to advertise and market to consumers that will give them measurable results. Yet, consumers see it as a way to communicate with family and friends or get information. Jamie Gilpin, Chief Marketing Officer of Sprout Social, says, “We as marketers always want to have that immediate impact. But consumers are looking to social to learn about brands and engage with them. Many businesses haven’t gotten totally comfortable with that shift. 

  • 55 percent of consumers use social media to learn about brands and companies
  • (primarily Gen Z and Millennials) 
  • 35 percent depend on social media to learn more about products, services, and brands

Consumers Don’t Like Sales Pitches

When people watch television or listen to the radio, they expect to be interrupted by ads. However, consumers are not willing to tolerate intrusive advertising and marketing pitches on social media. Social media users want to determine when and how they interact with brands. Consumers view ads that seem to pop up out of nowhere as an invasion of privacy. Promotions that transfer traditional marketing and advertising methods to an online platform typically fall flat.

What Consumers Want and Expect

Consumers respond to brands that are willing to build relationships over time. Companies that understand the nuances of social media marketing engage consumers on terms that are acceptable to them. Rather than pushing out messages and assuming they’ve got it right—savvy marketers listen to consumers and make the necessary adjustments. According to Gilpin, “These brands are leveraging the platforms and adapting to the way consumers are consuming content on those platforms. Video has become an important way to create meaningful content and meaningful connections that aren’t just about selling products. In video, people want that immediate response, like seeing a real sales rep in the store sharing some of the latest items that interest him or her. It’s not just about the products we are trying to sell.

Unlimited Potential

Companies continue to grapple with how to effectively leverage marketing and advertising on social media. However, 80 percent of businesses surveyed remain committed to online promotions because they believe it is the best option for connecting to consumers. 

  • 70 percent rely on social media 
  • 61 percent use email
  • 27 percent use a combination of television and radio
  • 24 percent buy print ads

The way companies approach advertising and engage consumers will determine how social media users will receive brands. Showing real people displaying emotions is more effective than quoting statistics and disclaimers about products. Putting the customer first is always the best place to start.

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